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Geo-Gases Roundup

October 27, 2006

The Oracle of Delphi may have had some geological help in entering her prophetic trance.


Revealing the mists of prophesy. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

For over a thousand years, priestesses at the Oracle of Delphi in central Greece drank in vapors from the earth, went into a trance, and then made prophecies for eager pilgrims. In the 1990s, scientists discovered that two geological faults intersect deep beneath the temple. Gases could well have issued up from these cracks into the chamber. Now new study in the journal Geology proposes that the gases were carbon dioxide and methane, which could have made the preistesses feel light-headed and possibly prophetic.

Researchers from the University of Kentucky report that carbon dioxide—a contributor to global warming—could be stored safely in underground shale deposits. Scrubbers installed in coal-burning plants and factories can capture the gas; shale deposits could provide a place to keep it.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.