I wouldn't take that too seriously, it probably won't happen, even with those warning signs. It's obvious that if gas is trying to escape it'll make fissures and make the seabed rise. But we weren't around that long ago, so we have no idea how severe those warning signs were before it actually happened.
Here is a response to Aym's article:
RedBedHead: BP Oil Disaster May Destroy Planet Earth!
Bummer. So much for that vacation I've been saving up for, now we're all gonna be dead and there won't be any fish in the lake where we rented that cottage. One more reason to hate BP - apocalyptic pricks.
But seriously, while this Terrence Aym dude is a crank - with a writing portfolio full of articles on "Bizarre UFO sightings", time travel, and the "Coming sun storms [that] could slam USA into 'Greatest Depression'" - and that makes this article just shy of funny a la The Onion, it's also annoying. Why? Because it contributes to the kind of anti-intellectual fervour that is the foundation stone of contemporary American culture and which writes off important and urgent truths, like climate change. I'm all for a good joke and for taking the piss out of most things but this isn't being pitched as a joke and there's nothing worse than a joke that isn't meant to be a joke. Not only because it makes guys like me who try to be funny feel a sense of shame that we've been unintentionally outdone by an idiot but because it delegitimizes the subject at hand. "You're just like the Weekly World News with that BP spill is the end of the world stuff." "Ha ha, yeah sure, we're all gonna die." Well, maybe we're not all gonna die and the world isn't about to release a cosmically huge, wet fart but a lot of sea animals are dying because of BP, and a lot of people are having their livelihoods and lives destroyed all along the Gulf coast. Because of this seemingly unstoppable debacle, the world's oceans are one step further down death row ...
Methane Bubble "Doomsday" Story Debunked
While it's true that there are methane bubbles (and methane ice) beneath the ocean floor, they are not about to erupt from Gulf and destroy all life on Earth. This morning I spoke with two Earth scientists, Dave Valentine of UC Santa Barbara and Chris Reddy of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, who study methane and oil seeps from the sea floor. Valentine has just been out to the Gulf to study the methane levels there, and told io9:
During our recent cruise to the Gulf we observed significantly elevated levels of methane at water depth greater than 2500 feet, in the vicinity of the Deepwater Horizon spill site. While the total quantity of methane and other hydrocarbons is enough to cause problems with the regional ecosystem, there is no plausible scenario by which this event alone will cause global-scale extinctions.
So yes, there is a methane seep. No, it will not cause tidal waves or explode.
Another fishy fact in the methane bubble doomsday story is Aym's description of how methane bubbles are what caused the End Permian mass extinction event 250 million years ago - a mass extinction that I wrote about recently, here. Many scientists do believe that atmospheric changes and ocean anoxia (de-oxygenization) were to blame for that extinction - but even Gregory Ryskin, the scientist whose highly speculative work is cited in the article, doesn't try to claim this as the sole cause, nor does he believe that one bubble of methane could bring down the biosphere instantly. The End Permian extinction took millennia to happen.
So the BP oil spill isn't going to end the world - it's just going to kill a lot of ocean life. And already-existing methane seeps may be doing slow, deadly damage to our climate. All this makes it even more obvious that we need to invest in alternate forms of energy. But who wants to hear difficult, complicated pieces of information, when we could just be screaming about doomsday? ...
This doesn't seem likely. If this methane bubble was really that fragile, it would have exploded during one of the many earth quakes that occur in that region every year. Not to mention there are already 10,000 other rigs pumping crude oil in the Gulf already.
We'll become extinct from a giant asteroid collision, gamma ray burst, or the explosion of the super volcano at Yellow Stone National Park before any sort of methane bubble in the Gulf.