Lake Baikal sits in the heart of Siberia so it’s not much of a surprise that it’s frozen over. The world’s deepest and oldest lake is used to the cold.
Long a frontier for energy industry explorers, its lakebed sometimes bubbles out methane – a highly potent greenhouse gas. Some of the bubbles freeze, which means part of Baikal’s ice isn’t ice at all.
What appears to be common white ice sections in parts of the lake’s solid surface are actually frozen methane hydrates – compounds formed when the gas is trapped in a crystal structure of water. Sometimes called “fire ice,” methane hydrates can be burned.
Energy-strapped nations like Japan have harvested the hydrates that are most commonly found in deep-sea locations. Interestingly, there are creatures that survive in them: methane ice worms.
The worms can’t live on methane itself, but instead feed on bacteria that are capable of metabolizing the gas. Fire ice