We can see that there are large buildups of methane clathrates in permafrost regions.

Climate scientist James Hansen has predicted that the release of the permafrost methane clathrates could cause runaway climate change.

We know that some have related the Triassic Extinction event to the release of Permafrost Clathrates.

I know that there are various techniques to extract natural gas from shale and rock.

My question is: Is it feasible to 'harvest' the Clathrates from the permafrost before they evaporate?


1 Answer 1


No, it's not feasible. They are too dispersed, and any operation to harvest them would be too costly and inefficient, and would amount to vandalism on a gigantic scale. We just have to hope that the vast majority of tundra clathrates will remain un-melted, as will probably be the case. The last time they were melted on a massive scale may well have been the Permo-Triassic extinction event of 250 million years ago.The Arctic tundra is a vast natural wilderness full of valuable wildlife. Any ill-judged operation to remove clathrates would not only be grossly expensive and inefficient, but would have both taxpayers and environmentalists up in arms!

Assuming theories of the Permo-Triassic event are correct, it took the long term eruptions of the Siberian Traps super-volcano to release almost unimaginable quantities of CO2 into the air to trigger the melting of clathrates. Eruptions of super-volcanoes like the Siberian Traps 250 million years ago and the Deccan Traps 66 million years ago make modern volcanic eruptions, even Krakatoa (1883) or Tambora (1815), pale into insignificance.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You seem to be confusing permafrost which is under tundra and clathrates which are under the sea. There are many patents about methods of extracting clathrates, and both China and Japan have extracted them as experiment, article from 2017 states that China expects extracting clathrates from south china sea to become economically viable by 2025. Permafrost on the other hand doesn't contain any methane, it contains large amount of biomass which releases methane when decomposing. And it is already melting in many places. $\endgroup$
    – a user
    Aug 17, 2019 at 19:54
  • $\begingroup$ There are clathrates in Arctic permafrost, and also biomass which will release CO2 and methane if it thaws for an extended time. In another answer I mention sea bed clathrates and the possibility of mining them,but it has so far proved impractical.. $\endgroup$ Aug 17, 2019 at 20:03
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    $\begingroup$ Need a reference for terrestrial clathrates and how much they are dispersed. $\endgroup$ May 7, 2020 at 3:19

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