Island Born by Quake Releasing Mystery Gas

Could be methane, could be something else

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 26, 2013 7:34 AM CDT | Updated Sep 26, 2013 8:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Tuesday's earthquake in Pakistan gave rise to an island roughly half a mile off the coast; yesterday, locals set off to explore it, and what they describe is an oval-shaped mass no more than 300 feet long—which is emitting some kind of flammable gas. Journalist Bahram Baloch tells the BBC that he and his companions found the mound littered with dead fish, but it's the gas that seems most jarring. "We could hear the hissing," he says, and when they put a match to it, flames appeared, and persistent ones at that: "Not even the water could kill it, unless one poured buckets over it."

A Pakistani marine biologist tells Geo TV it's methane, and echoed the journalist's account: "Our team found bubbles rising from the surface of the island which caught fire when a match was lit and we forbade our team to start any flame." But a geophysicist with the US Geological Survey isn't so sure. "The methane in this region we know about (is) deeper and offshore," he tells ABC News. "It’s not the most likely scenario. It could also be carbon dioxide, fluids in the ground." Whatever it is, scientists won't have too long to study it: The island is expected to sink back into the sea within a year. Meanwhile, the death toll in the quake has risen to 348, per the AP. Click for more on the island.

In this photo released by the Gwadar local government office on Wednesday, Sept 25, 2013, people walk on an island that reportedly emerged off the Gwadar coastline in the Arabian Sea.
In this photo released by the Gwadar local government office on Wednesday, Sept 25, 2013, people walk on an island that reportedly emerged off the Gwadar coastline in the Arabian Sea.   (AP Photo/Gwadar local government office)
In this photo released by the Gwadar local government office on Wednesday, Sept 25, 2013, people walk on an island that reportedly emerged off the Gwadar coastline in the Arabian Sea.
In this photo released by the Gwadar local government office on Wednesday, Sept 25, 2013, people walk on an island that reportedly emerged off the Gwadar coastline in the Arabian Sea.   (AP Photo/Gwadar local government office)
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