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Authors: Etiope, G. 
Title: Natural emissions of methane from geological seepage in Europe
Issue Date: Mar-2009
Series/Report no.: 7/43 (2009)
DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2008.03.014
Keywords: Methane
Natural emissions
Geological sources
Subject Classification03. Hydrosphere::03.04. Chemical and biological::03.04.05. Gases 
Abstract: Recent studies have shown that geological emissions of methane are an important greenhouse-gas source. Remarkable amounts of methane, estimated in the order of 40-60 Tg yr-1, are naturally released into the atmosphere from the Earth’s crust through faults and fractured rocks. The main source is natural gas, both microbial and thermogenic, produced in hydrocarbon-prone sedimentary basins and injected into the atmosphere through macro-seeps (onshore and offshore mud volcanoes and other seeps) and microseepage, an invisible but pervasive flux from the soil. This source is now evaluated for Europe on the basis of a literature survey, new field measurements and derived emission factors. The up-scaling criteria recommended by the EMEP/CORINAIR guidelines are applied to the local point and area source data. In Europe, 25 countries host oil and/or natural gas reservoirs and potentially, or actually, emit geological methane. Flux data, however, are available only from 10 countries: the onshore or offshore petroliferous sectors of Denmark, Italy, Greece, Romania, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Black Sea countries (Bulgaria, Ukraine, Georgia). Azerbaijan, whose emissions due to mud volcanism are known to be relevant, is included in the estimate. The sum of emissions, regional estimates and local measurements, related to macro-seeps leads to a conservative total value of about 2.2 Tg yr-1. Together with the potential microseepage fluxes from the petroliferous basins, estimated on the basis of the Total Petroleum System concept (around 0.8 Tg yr-1), the total European seepage is projected to 3 Tg yr-1. This preliminary figure would represent, in terms of magnitude, the second natural methane source for Europe after wetlands. The estimate will have to be refined by increasing the number of seepage measurements both on lands, where there is high potential for microseepage (e.g., Germany, Hungary, Romania, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Georgia) and in coastal marine areas (the North Sea, the Black Sea, offshore Greece and Italy) where emission factors and the extent of the underwater seeping area are not completely known.
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