Rights: Molecular diagram courtesy of Dr Vikki Gunn. Burning hydrate courtesy of MARUM, University of Bremen. Published 1 October 2012 Size: 210 KB

Methane hydrate consists of methane gas trapped in the crystal structure of water. When brought to the surface, methane hydrate can be easily ignited. As the ice crystal structure of the methane hydrate collapses, the trapped methane gas is released. The gas can be easily ignited, producing the ‘burning ice’ effect.