High Methane Concentration at the Four Corners

Oct 14, 2014

A recent finding by NASA reveals that a small area in the four corners region has the highest methane gas concentration in the United States. As Arizona Public Radio’s Justin Regan reports, the study finds the main culprit is natural gas leaks from coal production.

The methane concentration is shown by the red dot near the Four Corners.
Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Michigan

NASA says the hot spot, approximately half the size of Connecticut, sent nearly 0.6 million metric tons of methane into the atmosphere between 2003 and 2009. Scientists conducting the study at NASA and the University of Michigan used space-based recordings from the European Space Agency to see the amount of methane in the atmosphere. It was over three times the amount originally recorded from ground measurements.

They say Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, was not a huge factor in contributing to atmospheric methane because the study was conducted before its widespread use. Instead, the study points to New Mexico’s San Juan Basin, which has the highest coalbed methane activity in the country.

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