Extreme Ocean Environments: Deep–Sea Methane Seeps
Methane seep ecosystems are based on methane hydrate, a crystallized form of methane. Although it looks remarkably similar to ice, if you hold a match to methane hydrate, it will burn—thus its nickname "fire ice". It has a much higher melting point than water and it is a poor conductor of heat. Even though it is frozen, it doesn’t feel cold when you touch it.

(Babysitter” snails on towers of spiral eggcases on a carbonate (microbially-precipitated) rock. - Paul H. Yancey, Whitman College)
In 1997, ice worms (pictured - top) were discovered living on the surface of methane hydrate, their principle source of food being methane eating bacteria. Other organisms have also been found subsisting on the methane including mussels, clams and 100 year old tubeworms. The mussels and clams have developed a symbiotic relationship with methane eating bacteria. Without these bacteria to metabolize energy for them, the mussels and clams would not survive.
(via: California Academy of Sciences)     (top photo: NASA/JPL)

Extreme Ocean Environments: Deep–Sea Methane Seeps

Methane seep ecosystems are based on methane hydrate, a crystallized form of methane. Although it looks remarkably similar to ice, if you hold a match to methane hydrate, it will burn—thus its nickname "fire ice". It has a much higher melting point than water and it is a poor conductor of heat. Even though it is frozen, it doesn’t feel cold when you touch it.

(Babysitter” snails on towers of spiral eggcases on a carbonate (microbially-precipitated) rock. - Paul H. Yancey, Whitman College)

In 1997, ice worms (pictured - top) were discovered living on the surface of methane hydrate, their principle source of food being methane eating bacteria. Other organisms have also been found subsisting on the methane including mussels, clams and 100 year old tubeworms. The mussels and clams have developed a symbiotic relationship with methane eating bacteria. Without these bacteria to metabolize energy for them, the mussels and clams would not survive.

(via: California Academy of Sciences)     (top photo: NASA/JPL)

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    I spent 2 weeks in August of 1997 studying these animals shortly after they were discovered. As in, the ship docked and...
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    Slightly related to the articles I posted earlier about Saturn’s moon, Enceladus.
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