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Could a nuke ignite sub-surface methane?

  1. May 28, 2010 #1
    I'm not sure if this is the right spot for this question...if not could the mods move it please?

    If a nuke was used on the BP leak, would there be a chance that it could ignite the methane?
    I know there's lots of variables and factors but, if it was possible to ignite it, what's the chance of that happening? And if it did ignite huge pockets of methane, what would happen down there?
    This whole BP leak thing is tragic...but interesting too.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 28, 2010 #2


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    Burning generally requires oxygen.
    Sub surface is generally lacking in air.
  4. May 28, 2010 #3
    ^Yeah, i was just wondering if pockets of sea water containing oxygen could be under the surface and could ignite somehow.
    I'm not real keen on the physics of it all.
  5. May 29, 2010 #4
    An old practice for large bullet wounds when medical supplies are not handy is to insert a 'tampon' into the wound.

    As it absorbs the blood, it expands to conform to the shape of the wound, preventing excessive bleeding very quickly.

    It seems like something along the same principle might work in this case.

    A rather large 'bag' could be inserted into the flow area. It could contain a pipe with a remotely controlled 'cap'.

    The bag is expanded with water or such.

    The pipe would serve a couple functions. One, it could be used to get the bag into place. Two, it could be used to relieve some of the pressure when needed.

    I can foresee that it would need to be a rather tough bag so that it doesn't get torn by rocks or such.

    But it seems like it might work as a short term solution.

    Best regards,
    Kevin Randolph
  6. Jun 7, 2010 #5
    A nuke would not ignite the sub-sea methane as no oxygen would be available to support combustion. However a more damaging event could occur if the heat released would melt the methane hydrate bed causing a huge gas bubble to rise to the surface and ignite on the surface if a flame source were available. In any case a large quantity of greenhouse gas would be released to the atmosphere (either CH4 or CO2).
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