The line, near the Aleutian Trench, is about a mile high and has a diameter of about 1,640 feet, according to a field report from May 15.
Crews noticed the noodly line after looking at the data from sending out multibeam sonar sound pulses from the hull of the ship, which bounce off bubbles close to the ocean floor. The sound pulses return to the ship where measurements are recorded based on the time it took for the sound pulses to return to the ship from the ocean floor. The results indicated that what the crew had found was a gas seep. In total, the team discovered three new gas seeps near the Aleutian Trench.
The mapping software depicts the gas seeps differently. One image depicts the line as a neon green line that snakes its way up from the yellow-orange colored ocean floor. Another image identifies the bubbles that escape from the gas seep as pixels that trickle up from the ocean floor.
According to NOAA, gas seeps are cracks in the floor of the ocean floor where the gas trapped in the Earth’s crust escapes into the water as bubbles. Methane is one gas that is released in gas seeps. In the deep sea, methane is a source of energy for microbes. As a result, where there are methane gas seeps, microbes as well as animals that eat microbes, are usually close to gas seep.
While the area the crew discovered is large, without targeted measurements NOAA cannot give an accurate volume estimate.
This is the first of NOAA’s “Seascape Alaska” expeditions which will explore the deepwater areas off Alaska’s shores that are currently poorly understood. The current expedition, which began May 5 runs through May 27, focuses on waters with a depth of more than 656 feet.
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