Originally published July 30, 2012 at 11:02 a.m., updated July 30, 2012 at 3:40 p.m.
Benjamin Grupe, Biological oceanography graduate student , a member of the seep contingent on the San Diego Coastal Expedition
Jillian Maloney, Scripps geosciences graduate student, a member of the seep contingent on the San Diego Coastal Expedition
Last week a team of graduate students from Scripps Institution of Oceanography were mapping the sea floor about 20 miles west of Del Mar when they found what they thought to be the first methane seep off the San Diego County coastline.
Methane seeps are vents in the ocean floor teeming with bacteria and other microbes that feed off the gases being released, according to Benjamin Grupe, a biological oceanography graduate student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography who was part of the research team that found the seep.
The seep is more than 3,000 feet under water, two stories high and about a city block in length.
Jillian Maloney, a Scripps geosciences graduate student, said colleagues at the United States Geological Survey suggested they look in the area of the seep. She said they used acoustic instruments to study what was on the ocean floor.
Grupe said they also found two types of worms in the area that only live in places where there are gas seeps.
Maloney said while an earthquake could cause more gas than usual to be released, it is not likely dangerous.
Claire Trageser contributed to this report.