The Blake Ridge Diapir is the southernmost of a line of salt diapirs along the Carolina trough. Diapirs cause faulting of the superjacent sediments, creating pathways for migration of fluids and gas to the seafloor. We analyzed reflection seismic data from the Blake Ridge Diapir, which is located in a region with known abundant gas hydrate occurrence. A striking feature in these data is a significant shallowing of the base of gas hydrate stability (BGHS) over the center of the diapir. The seafloor is warped up by about 100 m above the diapir, from about 2300 m to about 2200 m. The BGHS, as indicated by a bottom simulating reflection (BSR), is about 4.5 s off the flanks of the diapir, rising to about 4.15 s at the center. Above the diapir, a fault system appears to rise vertically from the BGHS to about 0.05 s below the seafloor (40-50 m); it then diverges into several steeply dipping faults that breach the seafloor and cover an area ~700 m in diameter. Other secondary faults diverge from the main fault or emerge directly from the BGHS near the crest of the diapir. Gas and other fluids may migrate upward through the faults. We performed complex trace analysis to compare the reflection strength and instantaneous frequency along individual reflections. A low-frequency anomaly over the center of the diapir indicates high seismic attenuation. This is interpreted to be caused by migration of fluids (probably methane) along fault pathways. The migration of gas (i.e. probably mainly methane) through the gas hydrate stability zone is not yet understood. We speculate that pore fluids in the faults may be too warm and too salty to form gas hydrate, even at depths where gas hydrate is stable away from the diapir. Alternatively, gas hydrates may seal the fault walls such that water supply is too low to transform all the gas into gas hydrates. The shallowing of the BSR may reflect increased heatflow above the diapir either caused by the high thermal conductivity of the underlying salt or by advective heat transport along with fluids. High pore water salinity shifts the gas hydrate stability to lower temperatures and may also play a significant role in BSR shallowing. We, therefore, investigated the possible effect of pore water salinity on shallowing of the BSR. We found that BSR shallowing may theoretically be entirely caused by increased salinity over the diapir, although geologically this would not be reasonable. This observation demonstrates the potential importance of pore water salinity for lateral variations of BSR depths, in particular, above salt structures: (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.
Additional publication details
Trapping and migration of methane associated with the gas hydrate stability zone at the Blake Ridge Diapir: New insights from seismic data