Nature Reviews Earth & Environment
Published: February 19, 2020
C-DEBI Contribution Number: 556


Methane is ubiquitous on Earth and is produced and consumed through various processes, including biological reactions (such as methanogenesis and methane oxidation by microbes), the thermal breakdown of organic matter during burial, and abiotic production from, for example, H2 and CO2. These processes often interact and overlap, and it is crucial to understand how and when they do so in order to investigate methane dynamics in our warming planet. However, it is difficult to distinguish the various competing methane consumption and production reactions when they co-occur in the same environment, as traditional methane isotopic measurement techniques cannot distinguish between them confidently without additional information about the system. A new tool, the measurement of “clumped” isotopes of methane, now provides this capability.