Scientists: “Triangle” Had Acute Case Of Gas

June 6, 2013

Two Australian research scientists once claimed they had solved the mystery of vanished ships and airplanes in the region dubbed “The Bermuda Triangle.”

They dismissed outer space aliens, time anomalies, submerged giant Atlantean pyramids and bizarre meteorological phenomena — the Australian reseachers said the “Triangle” simply suffered from an acute case of gas.

Methane, they argued, was the culprit behind the supposedly mysterious disappearances ships and aircraft in the imaginary region bounded by Bermuda, Miami and Puerto Rico.

The evidence was laid in a research paper published in the September, 2003 “American Journal of Physics.”

“Professor Joseph Monaghan researched the hypothesis with honour student David May at the Monash University in Melbourne, Australia,” said science and technology writer Terrence Aym in a report on the Australian research.

“The two hypothesised that large methane bubbles rising from the ocean floor might account for many, if not all, of the mysterious disappearances of ships and aircraft at specific locales around the world.”

Mr. Aym said oceanographic surveys of the sea floor in the area of the Bermuda Triangle had revealed significant quantities of methane hydrates and older eruption sites.

“Because of the correlations and existing data, Professor Monaghan and Mr. May envisioned what would happen when gigantic methane bubbles explode from natural fissures on the seafloor,” said Mr. Aym.

Map showing the general location of the infamous Bermuda Triangle

Bermuda Triangle

The methane — normally frozen at great pressure as gas hydrates embedded within subterranean rock –can become dislodged and transform into gaseous bubbles expanding geometrically as they explode upwards. When these bubbles reach the surface of the water they soar into the air, still expanding upwards and outwards.

“Any ships caught within the methane mega-bubble immediately lose all buoyancy and sink to the bottom of the ocean,” said Mr. Aym. “If the bubbles are big enough and possess a high enough density they can also knock aircraft out of the sky with little or no warning.

“Aircraft falling victim to these methane bubbles will lose their engines-perhaps igniting the methane surrounding them-and immediately lose their lift as well, ending their flights by diving into the ocean and swiftly plummeting to the sea bottom.

“In most cases little or no wreckage would be found by searchers.”

Using advanced computer modelling programmes, Professor Monaghan and David May tested their theory.

The modelling programme, based on the scientific principles of fluid dynamics, accounted for all the variables including the velocity of a giant methane bubble, its pressure, and the density of the gas and surrounding water.

“The model converted three-dimensional information into a two-dimensional computer display. A graph illustrated the movement of the water forced aside by a mammoth methane bubble and its effect on ships of various sizes, configurations and tonnages,” said Mr. Aym.

To provide a check on the accuracy of their hypothesis, the two scientists built a large tank, filled it with water to simulate the regions of the earth where ships and planes have reportedly disappeared over the last century, and launched large methane gas bubbles from the bottom of the tank towards a toy ship floating on the surface of the water.

Mr. Aym said the results were impressive and the physical tests mirrored the computer model.

Bubbles of methane gas lower the density of the water causing model to sink

“The two found that the ship sank if it was between the middle of a bubble and its outer edges,” he said. “If the ship was far enough away from the edge of the bubble–or directly over it–the ship would sail on safely.

“Despite not sinking, however, if the methane bubble was big enough and the ship was positioned at or near the centre of the bubble when it surfaced, every one on the ship could be asphyxiated. This would account for several famous cases where ships were found in the Triangle with everyone aboard dead without a scratch.”

However, many experts aren’t convinced there are any Bermuda Triangle mysteries to explain.

Lieutenant A. L. Russell, in the US Coast Guard’s official response to Bermuda Triangle inquiries, says, “It has been our experience that the combined forces of nature and the unpredictability of mankind outdo science-fiction stories many times each year.”

In the Navy’s final report, the disappearance of the US Navy’s Flight 19 training mission of five TBM Avenger torpedo in 1948 — which gave rise to the modern Bermuda Triangle myth – was blamed on pilot error but after several reviews the verdict was changed to causes or reasons unknown.

“The region is highly travelled and has been a busy crossroads since the early days of European exploration,” said John Reilly, a historian with the US Naval Historical Foundation. “To say quite a few ships and airplanes have gone down there is like saying there are an awful lot of car accidents on the New Jersey Turnpike — surprise, surprise.”

Maritime insurance leader Lloyd’s of London does not recognise the Bermuda Triangle as an especially hazardous place and neither does the US Coast Guard which says “In a review of many aircraft and vessel losses in the area over the years, there has been nothing discovered that would indicate that casualties were the result of anything other than physical causes. No extraordinary factors have ever been identified.”

American journalist Vincent H. Gaddis coined the term that would enter popular culture; an article he wrote in the February 1964 issue of “Argosy” was titled “The Deadly Bermuda Triangle.”

“During the past two decades alone, this sea mystery at our back door has claimed almost 1,000 lives,” wrote Mr. Gaddis. “But even this is only as inference. In this series of disasters, not one body has ever been recovered.

“US Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard investigators have admitted they are baffled. The few clues we have only add to the mystery.

“Draw a line from Florida to Bermuda, another from Bermuda to Puerto Rico, and a third line back to Florida through the Bahamas. Within this area, known as the ‘Bermuda Triangle’, most of the total vanishments have occurred.

“… The Bermuda Triangle underlines the fact that despite swift wings and the voice of radio, we still have a world large enough so that men and their machines and ships can disappear without a trace.”

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