Undersea Gas Leaks near Israel Threaten the Mediterranean

Several vents are leaking gassy emissions into their surrounding marine environments

By Laura Sinpetru on November 12th, 2012 09:49 GMT

According to a new report made public by scientists working with the University of Haifa, the wellbeing of marine ecosystems in the Mediterranean Sea is now threatened by several vents which are leaking gassy emissions.

A thorough analysis of these gas vents and their potential negative impact on the Mediterranean Sea was published in the scientific journal Continental Shelf Research.

Apparently, the source of these emissions is a gas reserve embedded in the continental shelf, which somehow ended up allowing gas to seep in the Mediterranean.

Preliminary reports argue that most of these leaks are taking place at depths of 121-367 feet (37-112 meters), yet researchers fear that any plans to expand marine infrastructure might toy with both these vents and the gas reserves they are connected to.

More precisely, concerns are raised with respect to how Israel's plans to begin transporting natural gas from offshore drilling sites all the way to the continent will impact on the seabed's stability.

More so, given the fact that special infrastructure will have to be built in order to support this expansion of the gas industry.

This would in turn translate into ever increasing amounts of greenhouse gases being released into marine environments, and from that point on, the gassy emissions could go all the way up into the atmosphere, sources say.

Commenting on these findings, researcher Michael Lazar made a case of how, “We don't know yet what kind of gas we're talking about, but its role in undermining the stability of the seabed is clear.”

“This means that any discussion of marine infrastructure development must seriously relate to this shallow gas stratum.”

It is to be expected that several other studies will be carried out in order to assess the risks posed by these vents to the marine wildlife in the Mediterranean Sea.

“Now we are beginning to understand that there is no substitute for thoroughly researching the stability of the seafloor to prevent an infrastructure failure, since any leak could cause an ecological disaster,” specialist Uri Schattner wished to emphasize.
Several vents off Israel's coast are now leaking gassy emissions into the Mediterranean Sea
   Several vents off Israel's coast are now leaking gassy emissions into the Mediterranean Sea
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