A bottom simulating seismic reflection (BSR) that parallels the sea floor occurs worldwide on seismic profiles from outer continental margins. The BSR coincides with the base of the gas hydrate stability field and is commonly used as indicator of natural submarine gas hydrates. Despite the widespread assumption that the BSR marks the base of gas hydrate-bearing sediments, the occurrence and importance of low-velocity free gas in the sediments beneath the BSR has long been a subject of debate. This paper investigates the relative abundance of hydrate and free gas associated with the BSR by modeling the reflection coefficient or amplitude variation with offset (AVO) of the BSR at two separate sites, offshore Oregon and the Beaufort Sea. The models are based on multichannel seismic profiles, seismic velocity data from both sites and downhole log data from Oregon ODP Site 892. AVO studies of the BSR can determine whether free gas exists beneath the BSR if the saturation of gas hydrate above the BSR is less than approximately 30% of the pore volume. Gas hydrate saturation above the BSR can be roughly estimated from AVO studies, but the saturation of free gas beneath the BSR cannot be constrained from the seismic data alone. The AVO analyses at the two study locations indicate that the high amplitude BSR results primarily from free gas beneath the BSR. Hydrate concentrations above the BSR are calculated to be less than 10% of the pore volume for both locations studied.
Additional publication details
Amplitude versus offset modeling of the bottom simulating reflection associated with submarine gas hydrates