This paper is part of the special publication Gas hydrates: relevance to world margin stability and climatic change (eds J.P. Henriet and J. Mienert). Questions concerning clathrate hydrate as an energy resource, as a factor in modifying global climate and as a triggering mechanism for mass movements invite consideration of what factors promote hydrate concentration, and what the quintessential hydrate-rich sediment may be. Gas hydrate field data, although limited, provide a starting point for identifying the environments and processes that lead to more massive concentrations. Gas hydrate zones are up to 30 m thick and the vertical range of occurrence at a site may exceed 200 m. Zones typically occur more than 100m above the phase boundary. Thicker zones are overwhelmingly associated with structural features and tectonism, and often contain sand. It is unclear whether an apparent association between zone thickness and porosity represents a cause-and-effect relationship. The primary control on the thickness of a potential gas hydrate reservoir is the geological setting. Deep water and low geothermal gradients foster thick gas hydrate stability zones (GHSZs). The presence of faults, fractures, etc. can favour migration of gas-rich fluids. Geological processes, such as eustacy or subsidence, may alter the thickness of the GHSZ or affect hydrate concentratiion. Tectonic forces may promote injection of gas into the GHSZ. More porous and permeable sediment, as host sediment properties, increase storage capacity and fluid conductivity, and thus also enhance reservoir potential.
Additional publication details
Major occurrences and reservoir concepts of marine clathrate hydrates: Implications of field evidence