Beaufort Sea deep-water gas hydrate recovery from a seafloor mound in a region of widespread BSR occurrence

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Abstract

Gas hydrate was recovered from the Alaskan Beaufort Sea slope north of Camden Bay in August 2010 during a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy expedition (USCG cruise ID HLY1002) under the direction of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Interpretation of multichannel seismic (MCS) reflection data collected in 1977 by the USGS across the Beaufort Sea continental margin identified a regional bottom simulating reflection (BSR), indicating that a large segment of the Beaufort Sea slope is underlain by gas hydrate. During HLY1002, gas hydrate was sampled by serendipity with a piston core targeting a steep-sided bathymetric high originally thought to be an outcrop of older, exposed strata. The feature cored is an approximately 1100m diameter, 130 m high conical mound, referred to here as the Canning Seafloor Mound (CSM), which overlies the crest of a buried anticline in a region of sub-parallel compressional folds beneath the eastern Beaufort outer slope. An MCS profile shows a prominent BSR upslope and downslope from the mound. The absence of a BSR beneath the CSM and occurrence of gas hydrate near the summit indicates that free gas has migrated via deep-rooted thrust faults or by structural focusing up the flanks of the anticline to the seafloor. Gas hydrate recovered from near the CSM summit at a subbottom depth of about 5.7 meters in a water depth of 2538 m was of nodular and vein-filling morphology. Although the hydrate was not preserved, residual gas from the core liner contained >95% methane by volume when corrected for atmospheric contamination. The presence of trace C4+hydrocarbons (<0.1% by volume) confirms at least a minor thermogenic component. Authigenic carbonates and mollusk shells found throughout the core indicate sustained methane-rich fluid advection and possible sediment extrusion contributing to the development of the mound. Blister-like inflation of the seafloor caused by formation and accumulation of shallow hydrate lenses is also a likely factor in CSM growth. Pore water analysis shows the sulfate-methane transition to be very shallow (0-1 mbsf), also supporting an active high-flux interpretation. Pore water with chloride concentrations as low as 160 mM suggest fluid migration pathways may extend to the mound from buried non-marine sediments containing low-salinity fluids.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Beaufort Sea deep-water gas hydrate recovery from a seafloor mound in a region of widespread BSR occurrence
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher ICGH
Contributing office(s) Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 16 p
Larger Work Type Conference Paper
Larger Work Title Proceedings of the 7th international conference on gas hydrates (ICGH 2011)
Conference Title 7th International Conference on Gas Hydrates (ICGH)
Conference Location Edinburgh, Scotland
Conference Date July 17-21, 2011
Country United States
State Alaska
Other Geospatial Camden Bay
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N