Sunday, July 7, 2013

Eternal Flame Falls

Eternal Flame Falls
Geologists study mystery of 'eternal flames'
A gas-fired flame shines through a waterfall at Chestnut Ridge Park in Erie County, N.Y.                                                          Credit/Photo: Indiana University

"Eternal flames" fueled by hydrocarbon gas could shine a light on the presence of natural gas in underground rock layers and conditions that let it seep to the surface, according to research by geologists at the Department of Geological Sciences and the Indiana Geological Survey at Indiana University Bloomington.

A little-known but spectacular flame in Erie County, N.Y., is the focus of an article in the journal Marine and Petroleum Geology, co-authored by Agnieszka Drobniak, research scientist with the Indiana Geological Survey, and Arndt Schimmelmann, senior scientist in the Department of Geological Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences.
The article results from a U.S. Department of Energy research grant to Schimmelmann and Maria Mastalerz, senior scientist with the Indiana Geological Survey and graduate faculty member at the Department of . The project seeks to identify natural  in Indiana and nearby states and assess their contributions to atmospheric concentrations of .
The researchers said much remains to be learned about the passage of gas from underground  to the Earth's surface—occasionally in "macro seeps" strong and abundant enough to produce a continuous flame like the one in western New York.
"The story is developing," Schimmelmann said.
Giuseppe Etiope of the National Institute of Geophysics and  in Italy is lead author of the Marine and Petroleum Geology article, "Natural seepage of shale gas and the origin of 'eternal flames' in the Northern Appalachian Basin, USA." Etiope, who has studied eternal flames around the world, said the New York flame, behind a waterfall in Chestnut Ridge Park, is the most beautiful he has seen.
Not only that, but it may feature the highest concentrations of  and propane of any known  seep. Approximately 35 percent of the gas is ethane and propane, as opposed to methane, the dominant constituent in natural gas. Ethane and propane can be valuable byproducts in the processing of natural gas.
By analyzing the gases and comparing them with gas well records from the region, the researchers concluded the gas fueling the Chestnut Ridge Park flame originates from Rhinestreet Shale, an Upper Devonian formation about 400 meters deep. It reaches the surface through passages associated with faulting caused by tectonic activity.
At the New York site, the researchers identified numerous "micro seeps" of gas, apparently from the same source that fuels the eternal flame. This suggests that such seeps, if they are numerous and widespread, could make a significant contribution to  of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.
The researchers also studied a larger eternal flame at Cook Forest State Park in northwestern Pennsylvania. They determined that flame, in a continuously burning fire pit, is not a natural seep but a leak from an abandoned gas well. The source is thought to be a conventional gas reservoir, not shale.
Mastalerz said naturally occurring methane sources are believed to account for about 30 percent of the total methane emissions in the Earth's atmosphere. Natural gas seeps are thought to be the second most significant source of naturally occurring methane emissions, after wetlands.
But finding seeps is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Last year, the researchers surveyed a region of Kentucky that is geologically similar to western New York—and where "burning springs" figure in local history and folklore—but turned up no evidence of escaping natural gas.
Schimmelmann said researchers have found elevated levels of carbon dioxide in caves, possibly resulting from methane that is converted by microorganisms to carbon dioxide gas as it seeps slowly toward the surface. Carbon dioxide is also a greenhouse gas, but it is 20 times less effective at trapping heat than methane.
The findings suggest natural gas seeps occur in areas that have experienced tectonic activity, and it may be easier to find them in caves, which capture and concentrate gas when it reaches the surface. A next step in the research, planned for this summer, is to continue the search in areas of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia where gas-bearing shale underlies cave systems.

The mystery of New York’s eternal flame: Baffled scientists admit they are unsure where the gas that keeps landmark burning comes from

 TRUTHER MAY 15, 2013 1
For years, scientists thought that the eternal flamein New York was kept alight by gas produced by ancient, extremely hot rocks.
However, researchers from Indiana University have discovered that the rocks underneath the Chestnut Ridge County Park aren’t hot enough to produce this gas, which means another process is producing the gas that’s keeping the flame burning.
And they have not been able to identify exactly what the process is.


There are thousands of flames around the world that are able to burn constantly because of gas seeping through the soil, or because of man-made structures.
Some of the man-made flames are kept alight for religious reasons, others were lit in honour of famous people who had died, such as the eternal flame at the Kennedy memorial.
However, natural eternal flames, like the one in New York, are rare.
This is because natural eternal flames can only be kept alight by gas ‘macro seeps’.
Gas usually comes through soil, where bacteria eats the methane converts it into carbon dioxide.
Alternatively, gas comes out in a location where it disappears quickly, so can’t keep a lit flame burning.
In the case of the New York flame, a ‘macro seep’ of gas comes from a natural hollowed-out chamber.
Because the gas is contained and isn’t converted, the flame is kept alight eternally.
The eternal flame sits behind a waterfall in western New York.
It is said to have been lit thousands of years ago by Native Americans.
There are hundreds of ‘natural’ eternal flames around the world, and each one is thought to be kept alight by natural gas produced from the rocks beneath it.
The gas used to keep the flames burning is thought to come from ancient and extremely hot rocks called shale.
However, Arndt Schimmelmann and the researchers from Indiana University discovered that rocks beneaththe flame in New York aren’t hot enough to produce this reaction.
Schimmelmann told OurAmazingPlanet that the rocks were only the temperature of a ‘cup of tea’.
Plus, the shale isn’t as old as first expected.
Both of these factors mean that the shale beneath the New York flame couldn’t be creating gas in the same way as other flames around the world.

And the researchers admitted they are unsure exactly how the New York gas is being produced.
Schimmelmann said: ‘We think there’s a different pathway of gas generation in this location and that there probably is elsewhere as well.
‘If that’s true, and gas is naturally produced this way in other locations, we have much more shale-gas resources than we thought,” he added.
The temperatures, said to be near the boiling point of water or hotter, break down the carbon molecules in the shale and this reaction gives off a natural gas.
Schimmelmann and his colleague Maria Mastalerz made the discovery as they were studying the amount of methane that is produced by the ground along the east coast of America. 
The eternal flame in New York was said to have been lit thousands of years ago by Native Americans and has been kept alight by naturally formed gas. Yet researchers from Indiana University have since discovered that the way the gas is produced is different to what was first thought and are unsure of the source
This geologic map of western New York State and north-western Pennsylvania shows the locations of eternal flames at Chestnut Ridge County Park and Clarington
This geologic map of western New York State and north-western Pennsylvania shows the locations ofeternal flames at Chestnut Ridge County Park and Clarington
They also looked at a ‘permanently burning pit’ in Cook Forest State Park in northwestern Pennsylvania, although this eternal flame is fuelled by an old gas well.
The team reported their findings in a study published in the May issue of the journal Marine and Petroleum Geology.
The researchers also discovered that the New York gas seep also features the highest concentration of ethane and propane of any seep in the world, according to the study.
There is also an eternal flame in Pennsylvania. This map shows the profile of gas flux measurements at the Pennsylvanian gas seep in, plus the 3D plots of methane flux distribution
Researchers from Indiana University also studied the eternal flame in Pennsylvania. This map shows the profile of gas flux measurements at the Pennsylvanian gas seep in, plus the 3D plots of methane flux distribution
Credit/Source: Dailymail
Note: I had researched on these and these two articles were among who explained extensively.
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