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Undersea gas leaks off Israel's coast are discovered by University of Haifa researchers
Date:11/12/2012

The terms "gas" and "sea" for many will invoke associations of reserves, business, and a lot of money. Whatever the association, most of the efforts in Israel's energy field are being directed at gas buried deep under the Mediterranean seabed. Now a new geophysical study, the first of its kind in Israel, has uncovered a system of active gas springs in the Haifa Bay seabed, at relatively shallow depths, only a few dozen meters below the surface.

The study, published in the journal Continental Shelf Research, describes the entire system, from its sources under the sea floor through the natural springs emerging from the seabed.

"This is a natural laboratory for researching gas emissions from the sea floor natural springs and less natural ones. We are only beginning to understand their contribution to climate and ecological change," said Dr. Uri Schattner of the Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences at the University of Haifa, who led the research.

The first evidence of gas springs emerged from examining a map of the sea floor off Israel's northern coast. A joint effort between the University of Haifa and the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute revealed no less than 700 spots in the seabed that looked like possible gas springs. The researchers' suspicions intensified when seismic data identified pockets of gas beneath the seabed.

Based on this evidence, researchers went out to sea four times to collect more data from the seabed and from under the sea floor. "Geophysical information enables us to research beneath the sea floor and map out the entire system, from the gas sources to their penetration of the sea waters," said Dr. Schattner.

However, what they found exceeded all expectations. A gas deposit of 72 square kilometers was found on the continental shelf, at depths of between 37 meters to 112 meters. While many of the gases remain in the reserve, some still manage to escape into the sea.

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Contact: Rachel Feldman
rfeldman@univ.haifa.ac.il
972-482-88722
University of Haifa
Source:Eurekalert

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