BREMEN, Germany, July 29 (UPI) -- European scientists say they have confirmed a link between earthquakes and underwater releases of methane gas that could increase global greenhouse gas levels.
In the journal Nature Geoscience, the researchers report evidence in methane-rich mud and sand on the sea floor suggests a magnitude 8.1 earthquake in 1945 could have triggered the release of large amounts of methane -- a potent greenhouse gas -- from beneath the Arabian sea.
The temblor probably fractured sediments that held stores of fragile gas hydrates, lead study author David Fischer, a geochemist at the University of Bremen in Germany, said.
Such hydrates -- compounds that trap gas in icy lattices -- are common in many seismically active regions and earthquakes could be a significant natural trigger for their release, the researchers said.
Methane is still bubbling up from the Arabian seafloor today, they said.
"This is something to consider in the global greenhouse gas budget," Fischer said.