Trigger mechanisms of gas hydrate decomposition, methane emissions and glacier breakup in polar regions as the result of deformation tectonic waves

This paper presents a new revolutionary theory of Academician Leopold Isaevich Lobkovsky on the impact of strong subduction earthquakes on the Earth’s climate and the catastrophic collapse of ice shelves as a trigger effect. A seismogenic-trigger mechanism is proposed for the activation of methane emission on the Arctic shelf in the late 1970s, which caused the onset of a sharp climate warming in the Arctic, as well as the intensive collapse of the ice sheet ice shelves of West Antarctica in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, accompanied by the release of methane from the underlying hydrate-bearing sedimentary rocks and the rapid climate warming in Antarctica.

This mechanism is associated with the action of deformation tectonic waves in the lithosphere-asthenosphere system, caused by strong earthquakes occurring in the subduction zones closest to the Polar Regions: the Aleutian located in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean, and the Chilean and Kermadec-Macquarie, located in the southeastern and southwestern parts of the Pacific lithosphere. Namely, the arrival of a tectonic wave from a strong earthquake brings additional stresses that cause the destruction of ice shelves and subglacial gas hydrates in the polar regions of the Earth with the release of large volumes of methane into the atmosphere, which leads to rapid global warming and global sea level rise. The considered hypothesis leads to the conclusion that in the coming decades, the processes of glacier destruction and climate warming in Antarctica will increase due to an unprecedented increase in the number of strongest earthquakes in the subduction zones of the South Pacific Ocean in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. In addition, the possibility of a catastrophic sliding of the huge ice caps of Antarctica into the sea (Wilks Basin, East Antarctica) and the collapse of the outlet Thwaites Glacier (the so-called Doomsday Glacier, West Antarctica) with a global sea level rise of several meters in a short time (hours, days) is discussed.

Scheme of the seismogenic trigger mechanism of methane emission on the polar shelf due
to the destructive effect on gas hydrates of deformation waves caused by strong earthquakes in the subduction zone. (I): Large-magnitude earthquake generating the tectonic wave, (II): Propagation of the tectonic wave, (III): Methane emission caused by the tectonic wave-associated stresses arriving in methane-saturated and hydrate-bearing permafrost area.

The given model and calculations show that there are natural causes of global warming and the contribution of mankind to global warming can be insignificant. In this case, the entire green agenda of humanity collapses with carbon landfills and colossal investments, incl. in Russia to reduce carbon emissions.

Scheme of various stages and regimes of ice shelf movement.
Sources of the large earthquakes in the Chilean and Kermadec–Macquarie subduction zones in the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the XXI century. Red stars correspond to focal zones. (a) During 1960–2000, (b) During 2001–2022.

Source: Lobkovsky, L.I.; Baranov, A.A.; Ramazanov, M.M.; Vladimirova, I.S.; Gabsatarov, Y.V.; Semiletov, I.P.; Alekseev, D.A. Trigger Mechanisms of Gas Hydrate Decomposition, Methane Emissions, and Glacier Breakups in Polar Regions as a Result of Tectonic Wave Deformation. Geosciences 2022, 12, 372. DOI: 10.3390/geosciences12100372