Natural cold seeps are an important source of methane and other greenhouse gases to the ocean and atmosphere in the marine environment. Accurate quantification of methane bubble fluxes from cold seeps is vital for evaluating their influence on the global methane budget and climate change. We quantified the flux of gas bubbles released from two natural cold seep sites in the South China Sea: one seep vent in the Haima cold seeps (1400 m depth) and three seep vents at Site F (1200 m depth). We determined bubble diameter, size distribution, and bubble release rate using image processing techniques and a semiautomatic bubble-counting algorithm. The bubble size distributions fit well to log-normal distribution, with median bubble diameters between 2.54 mm and 6.17 mm. The average bubble diameters and release rates (4.8–26.1 bubbles s−1
) in Site F was lower than that in Haima cold seeps (22.6 bubbles s−1
), which may be attributed to a variety of factors such as the nature of the gas reservoir, hydrostatic pressure, migration pathways in the sediments, and pore size. The methane fluxes emitted at Haima cold seeps (12.6 L h−1
) and at Site F (4.9 L h−1
) indicate that the Haima and Site F cold seeps in the South China Sea may be a source of methane to the ocean. However, temporal variations in the bubble release rate and the geochemical characteristics of the seeps were not constrained in this study due to the short observational time interval.
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