A seismogenic trigger mechanism is proposed to explain the abrupt climate warming phases in the Arctic as a result of strong mechanical disturbances in the marginal region of the Arctic lithosphere. Those disturbances might have been caused by great earthquakes in the Aleutian subduction zone, and slowly propagated across the Arctic shelf and adjacent regions, triggering the methane release from permafrost and metastable gas hydrates, followed by greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. The proposed mechanism is based on the identified correlation between the series of the great earthquakes in the Aleutian island arc, which occurred in the early and middle of the 20th century, and the two phases of sharp climate warming, which began in 1920 and 1980. There is a 20-year time lag between these events, which is explained by the time of arrival of deformation waves in the lithosphere (propagating with a velocity of about 100 km per year) at the Arctic shelf and adjacent land from the Aleutian subduction zone, the region of their generation. The trigger mechanism causing the methane release from permafrost and metastable gas hydrates is related to the destruction of micro-sized ice films covering gas hydrate particles, the elements highly important for hydrate self-preservation, as well as destruction of gas-saturated micropores in permafrost rocks due to the slight additional stresses associated with deformation waves, and thus emergence of conditions favorable for gas filtration and its subsequent emission.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited