The Eternal Flame is a naturally occurring natural gas leak in Orchard Park, NY. It sits in a small grotto behind a waterfall and is the most unique natural gas leak in the world for two reasons. First, most natural gas leaks are methane, but the Eternal Flame is 35% ethane and propane. This is extremely rare, and scientists aren’t exactly sure what accounts for the unique composition. Second, the source of the natural gas leak is only 1,300 feet below the surface, and it’s lukewarm. Ordinarily, these leaks are much deeper in the earth’s crust and reach temperatures near-boiling. This is usually required for the gas to be released. In this case, the gas is somehow being released at much lower temperatures closer to the surface, and it seems that there is another process at work that we don’t quite understand yet. So, not only is it a beautiful sight to see, but it’s also quite mysterious and unknown. That made it one of our favorite hikes in recent memory. It’s a short hike, and we highly recommend it if you ever find yourself in the area.
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