Apr 292014
 

There’s a descriptor I bet you hadn’t expected…

Scientists exploring Gulf shipwreck discover frozen tar volcano

A natural deposit of tar below the ocean floor broke through, and promptly froze when it hit the cold water. The results look positively Lovecraftian.

 Posted by at 11:01 pm
  • se jones

    Very cool!
    As an aside: if anyone is ever traveling in South East Colorado, look for the little conical mounts just east of I-25 (there are thousands of them), these are related to that tar volcano. These mounts are generically called “Tepee Buttes”, but they are in fact fossilized methane-seep ecosystems. They formed on the bottom of the shallow inland sea that covered the interior of North America in the long long ago. Methanogenic bacteria formed the basis of the food chain with the weird tube worms and clams clinging to the vent to form the mounds. That same methane (natural gas for those in Rio Linda) bearing shale is capped over by sandstone sediments up here in the Denver basin, giving easy access to vast reserves of shale gas by fracking.
    My colleagues are searching for similar methane seep buttes on Mars, but it’s hard to separate them from the numerous mud volcanoes. Ground truth is needed. I’ll go, I’ll go!

    http://fieldguides.gsapubs.org/content/3/94.full

    http://news.sciencemag.org/2011/04/scienceshot-martian-mud-volcanoes

    • Anonymous

      I remember the asphalt volcanoes discovered by Woods Hole around the time of Deepwater Horizon. But they didn’t look like chthonians…

      A nice trick I’d like to see done is to report the La Brea tar pits as a spill and see how many folks want to ban it…

      • se jones

        think of the children