Encyclopedia of Marine Geosciences

Living Edition
| Editors: Jan Harff, Martin Meschede, Sven Petersen, Jörn Thiede

Methane in Marine Sediments

  • Gerhard Bohrmann
  • Marta E. Torres
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6644-0_190-1


Methane is the simplest hydrocarbon with the chemical formula CH4. At room temperature and standard pressure, methane is a colorless, odorless gas. It is the main component of natural gas and thus important as an energy source. Due to its ability to absorb energy on the infrared band, methane plays a direct role in the Earth’s greenhouse effect.

Methane Distribution

Methane represents a key component of the carbon cycle in marine sediments. The amount of carbon that presently occurs as methane in marine sediments is thought to be ~500–10,000 Gt (Kvenvolden and Lorenson, 2001; Milkov, 2004; 1 Gt = 1015g). The size of this reservoir is ultimately determined by a balance of organic carbon sources and sinks, which vary in time and space. The loci of large methane deposits are further controlled by thermal, lithological, and structural characteristics of the sediments. Methane production is fundamentally controlled by organic carbon rain to the sediments, which in turn depends...


Marine Sediment Methane Flux Methane Hydrate Cold Seep Bubble Plume 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fachbereich GeowissenschaftenUniversity of Bremen, MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental SciencesBremenGermany
  2. 2.College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric SciencesOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA