Using an oedometer cell instrumented to measure the evolution of electromagnetic properties, small strain stiffness, and temperature, we conducted consolidation tests on sediments recovered during drilling in the northern Gulf of Mexico at the Atwater Valley and Keathley Canyon sites as part of the 2005 Chevron Joint Industry Project on Methane Hydrates. The tested specimens include both unremolded specimens (as recovered from the original core liner) and remolded sediments both without gas hydrate and with pore fluid exchanged to attain 100% synthetic (tetrahydrofuran) hydrate saturation at any stage of loading. Test results demonstrate the extent to which the electromagnetic and mechanical properties of hydrate-bearing marine sediments are governed by the vertical effective stress, stress history, porosity, hydrate saturation, fabric, ionic concentration of the pore fluid, and temperature. We also show how permittivity and electrical conductivity data can be used to estimate the evolution of hydrate volume fraction during formation. The gradual evolution of geophysical properties during hydrate formation probably reflects the slow increase in ionic concentration in the pore fluid due to ion exclusion in closed systems and the gradual decrease in average pore size in which the hydrate forms. During hydrate formation, the increase in S-wave velocity is delayed with respect to the decrease in permittivity, consistent with hydrate formation on mineral surfaces and subsequent crystal growth toward the pore space. No significant decementation/debonding occurred in 100% THF hydrate-saturated sediments during unloading, hence the probability of sampling hydrate-bearing sediments without disturbing the original sediment fabric is greatest for samples in which the gas hydrate is primarily responsible for maintaining the sediment fabric and for which the time between core retrieval and restoration of in situ effective stress in the laboratory is minimized. In evaluating the impact of core retrieval on specimen properties, it is also important to consider how far removed hydrate-bearing samples are from hydrate stability conditions. ?? 2008 Elsevier Ltd.
Additional publication details
Mechanical and electromagnetic properties of northern Gulf of Mexico sediments with and without THF hydrates