Natural gas hydrate occurrence and issues

DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1994.tb38838.x



Naturally occurring gas hydrate is found in sediment of two regions: (1) continental, including continental shelves, at high latitudes where surface temperatures are very cold, and (2) submarine outer continental margins where pressures are very high and bottom-water temperatures are near 0??C. Continental gas hydrate is found in association with onshore and offshore permafrost. Submarine gas hydrate is found in sediment of continental slopes and rises. The amount of methane present in gas hydrate is thought to be very large, but the estimates that have been made are more speculative than real. Nevertheless, at the present time there has been a convergence of ideas regarding the amount of methane in gas hydrate deposits worldwide at about 2 x 1016 m3 or 7 x 1017 ft3 = 7 x 105 Tcf [Tcf = trillion (1012) ft3]. The potentially large amount of methane in gas hydrate and the shallow depth of gas hydrate deposits are two of the principal factors driving research concerning this substance. Such a large amount of methane, if it could be commercially produced, provides a potential energy resource for the future. Because gas hydrate is metastable, changes of surface pressure and temperature affect its stability. Destabilized gas hydrate beneath the sea floor leads to geologic hazards such as submarine mass movements. Examples of submarine slope failures attributed to gas hydrate are found worldwide. The metastability of gas hydrate may also have an effect on climate. The release of methane, a 'greenhouse' gas, from destabilized gas hydrate may contribute to global warming and be a factor in global climate change.

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Natural gas hydrate occurrence and issues
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