The Inertia Contributing Writer
The (Bermuda) triangle in question. Image:

The (Bermuda) triangle in question. Image:

The Inertia

Did your Facebook feed recently blow up with stories of how a new study solved the mystery of the Bermuda Triangle? And the secret all this time was huge bubbles of methane gas, aka giant ocean farts?

That amazingly smelly theory theory – like the existence of the Bermuda Triangle itself – is probably too good to be true. It started with a new report from Norwegian researchers who discovered huge craters at the bottom of the Barents Sea, 3,280 feet in diameter and 130 feet deep. They theorized that these seabed craters formed as the result of methane gas that had been trapped in oil deposits beneath the seafloor. At some point – boom! – the methane blew through the seabed, forming the crater and rising to the surface.

They published their findings with nary the words Bermuda or triangle. Yet the Daily Mail, U.K.s finest source of tabloid news, added some, ahem, scientific interpretation of their own. To wit: a sub-headline reading: “Could explain disappearance of ships in notorious Bermuda Triangle”.

Their assertion was the study shows that huge gas bubbles could rise through the ocean and swallow ships and airplanes in the manner for which the Bermuda Triangle has become infamous. (Nevermind the fact that some people, like the U.S. Navy, for instance, reject the idea that the Bermuda Triangle even exists.)

Kooky as it sounds, it’s actually not the first time this theory has been floated. Scientists have studied the physics of how ships would be affected by a giant bubble rising through the ocean. And what’d they find? That indeed, a giant bubble could swallow a ship whole.

Ready for the craziest part? Cue “Twilight Zone” theme music: Deposits of methane in an ice-like state exist on the seafloor in – you guessed it –  the Bermuda Triangle. If and when the methane turns to gas, which it can do suddenly and in large volumes, as the theory goes, it could rise to the surface in a bubble of unholy proportions, swallowing whatever lies above.

Being the boring, awesome-theory-haters they are, the Norwegian researchers published an article titled “Craters in Barents Sea Not Connected to Bermuda Triangle.” NatGeo responded, too. Their article called the theories “fringe,” but also noted that oil workers have called methane bubbles “burps of death” because they can “explode violently.”

So, deposits of methane ice do exist in the Bermuda Triangle. And methane ice can and does cause violent explosions on the ocean’s surface. And those explosions, physicists say, can swallow ships. But self-respecting scientists aren’t ready to propose that Bermuda Triangle exists or that it can be explained by giant ocean farts.

Whether or not the theory is true, you gotta admit it’s fun to think about. And whether or not the U.S. Navy says the Bermuda Triangle exists, I’m not about to go sail through it to find out for myself. I don’t want “Burp of Death” on my death certificate.


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