A gigantic expulsion of methane gas from beneath the North Atlantic some 55 million years ago may have warmed the globe and could help scientists understand the planet's response to today's surge in greenhouse gases.

Traces of hyperthermal vents in lava off the Norway shore could be evidence of an Earth-burp that warmed the planet by 10-20 F. degrees for about 10,000 years in the Eocene era. The spike wiped out some plants and animals.

Scientists say the buildup of greenhouse gas going on today is 35 times faster than the buildup in the Eocene and could bring more stormes, floods and higher sea levels. The Eocene event is not regarded as a major extinction.