Gas hydrates are stable at relatively low temperature and high pressure conditions; thus large amounts of hydrates can exist in sediments within the upper several hundred meters below the sea floor. The existence of gas hydrates has been recognized and mapped mostly on the basis of high amplitude Bottom Simulating Reflections (BSRs) which indicate only that an acoustic contrast exists at the lower boundary of the region of gas hydrate stability. Other factors such as amplitude blanking and change in reflection characteristics in sediments where a BSR would be expected, which have not been investigated in detail, are also associated with hydrated sediments and potentially disclose more information about the nature of hydratecemented sediments and the amount of hydrate present. Our research effort has focused on a detailed analysis of multichannel seismic profiles in terms of reflection character, inferred distribution of free gas underneath the BSR, estimation of elastic parameters, and spatial variation of blanking. This study indicates that continuous-looking BSRs in seismic profiles are highly segmented in detail and that the free gas underneath the hydrated sediment probably occurs as patches of gas-filled sediment having variable thickness. We also present an elastic model for various types of sediments based on seismic inversion results. The BSR from sediments of high ratio of shear to compressional velocity, estimated as about 0.52, encased in sediments whose ratios are less than 0.35 is consistent with the interpretation of gasfilled sediments underneath hydrated sediments. This model contrasts with recent results in which the BSR is explained by increased concentrations of hydrate near the base of the hydrate stability field and no underlying free gas is required. ?? 1994 Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Additional publication details
Seismic character of gas hydrates on the Southeastern U.S. continental margin