A fire at sea is not just a fairy tale


You do not get a fire at sea in just fairy tales. During the fierce Crimean earthquake of September 11th, 1927, the sea was ablaze near to the South Crimean Coast. And it was hydrogen sulphide pollution of the sea that caused it. Crimean geophysicists from the Vernadsky Tavrian National University have created a mathematical model of the oscillations of the Black Sea. This model makes it possible to determine in which bodies of water hydrogen sulphide disasters are possible.

The Black Sea is made up of two layers. The lower layer is denser and is rich in hydrogen sulphide. The upper layer is less dense and contains a lower concentration of hydrogen sulphide. However, the boundary between the layers is violated by waves. Calculations show that waves of the lower layer, rich in hydrogen sulphide, are most suited to the marine surface near the Bulgarian coast, the Southern Crimea coast and in the region to the West of Sevastopol. An external influence on these areas, such as an earthquake, could rapidly and significantly increase the amplitude of the oscillations of the internal waves. It is possible that polluted waters reach the surface of the sea and splash out hydrogen sulphide and other flammable gases. This is how the fire at sea during the Crimean Earthquake of 1927 is explained. Its epicentre was located near the Southern Coast and the earthquake roused the internal waves.

The ecological situation in the Black Sea is now very poor; the water is dirty and the layer rich in hydrogen sulphide is getting thicker. This increases the probability of hydrogen sulphide disasters that are especially dangerous in coastal zones. Alas, the majority of dangerous sites are located close to the shore.