The fire is generated from combustion (burning) of methane gas formed in very deep underground rocks, which seeps through rock fractures and comes into contact with oxygen in air at the surface. This burning reaction produces carbon dioxide and water. Methane is one of the main components of natural gas.
Scientists agree that the origin of the methane gas is NOT volcanic. However, they still don’t agree about its exact origin: Some believe both biological and non-biological processes are occurring, while others more recently say that the processes are mostly non-biological.
The biological source may be sedimentary rocks rich in organic material, which upon decomposition in the absence of oxygen form methane.
The non-biological sources are rocks (such as olivine) that in contact with water and carbon dioxide form methane. Apparently, for this to happen at the low temperatures present in the Chimaera a metal catalyst is required, and recently ruthenium metal has been discovered in the underlying rocks as the potential catalyst responsible for this methane production.
The fluxes of methane in the Chimaera are at least 150 to 190 tons per year!
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