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Can methane bubbles sink ships?

The theory that methane bubbles on the seabed can sink ships will be discussed at a public meeting at the University of St Andrews next week (Wednesday 28 February 2001).

The event follows geologists’ investigations of large pock-marks on the seabed near Aberdeen which may be related to the emission of methane gas from oil-bearing deposits. Right in the centre of one of the largest of the pockmarks, surveys had revealed an “anomaly” which was variously interpreted as a stream of methane bubbles or as a ship-wreck. Recently the three authors carried out a survey of this anomaly, with the generous co-operation of Fugro plc, a hydrographic survey company, using a survey ship fitted with the most up-to-date survey equipment including a remotely-operated vehicle equipped with video-recorders. This survey showed unequivocally that the “anomaly” is a wreck – a steel, steam-powered fishing vessel.

The meeting will present the history of the site, the results of the survey and will discuss ideas on the identity of the wreck. This latter point still has some way to go but the presentation will show the power of modern survey work of this kind to locate and identify wreck sites and, incidentally, raises the prospect that methane gas emissions in our shallow seas can have catastrophic effects upon ships on passage in such waters.

Addressed by Mark Lawrence and Robert Prescott from the University of St Andrews’ Scottish Institute of Maritime Studies and Alan Judd of the University of Sunderland, the event will be held in the Archaeology Room, Swallowgate, The Scores, St Andrews at 5pm on Wednesday 28 February 2001.

ENDS

Issued by Beattie Media on behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information please contact Claire Grainger on 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or email cg24@st-andrews.ac.uk Ref: witcheshole/standrews/chg/23feb2001

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