Bubbles of methane coming up from the sea bottom may theoretically sink ships
This is the natural phenomenon that can explain mysterious disappearance of some ships, Australian researchers say. Giant bubbles may burst out of underwater deposits of solid methane, known as gas hydrates. This gas that is frequent in swamps and mines may become solid on the sea bottom. Such deposits may split into parts and resume the gaseous state slowly surfacing.
David May and Joseph Monaghan from Monash University of Melbourne claim that they have shown that huge bubbles from the underwater deposits may sink vessels. "Sonar surveys of the ocean floor in the North Sea (between Britain and continental Europe) have revealed large quantities of methane hydrates and eruption sites," May and Monaghan said.
Supposedly, ships sank because they lost floatation as a result of huge methane bubbles erupting from the gas hydrate deposits on the sea bottom. Nobody has ever seen such an eruption and consequently cannot say how huge the bubbles can be. May and Monaghan have developed a model of a huge bubble emerging on the sea surface under a vessel. They have estimated that the possbility whether a vessel could sink depends upon its position relative to the bubble. If it is rather far from the bubble it will be safe. If the is vessel exactly above the bubble, it is also safe because in the bubble's stagnation point the vessel will not go into the trough area. The danger position is between the bubble's stagnation point and the edge of the mound where the trough forms.