Gas Venting and Gas Hydrate Stability in the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico Slope: Significance to Sediment Deformation

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Conference Proceeding

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Gas hydrate is abundant on the Gulf of Mexico continental slope because hydrocarbon gases from the subsurface petroleum system vent prolifically to the sea floor at low temperatures and high pressures within the gas hydrate stability zone (GHSZ). Compositions of gases venting from hydrate-bearing sediments show that gas hydrate decomposition is not significant at this point in geologic time. Structure II gas hydrate is commonly encountered, and contains C -C hydrocarbons that crystallize from relatively unaltered gases that have migrated from deep in the section. Most structure II gas hydrate sites studied from the ∼540-1930 m water depth range are stable, and gas hydrate is accumulating to considerable depth in sediment because of constant gas venting. Bacterial methane hydrate is also abundant in the Gulf of Mexico. Chemosynthetic communities are preferentially associated with gas hydrate. Massive accumulation of gas hydrate in the Gulf of Mexico deforms shallow sediments. Gas hydrate may be a geologic hazard because exploration and exploitation activities on the Gulf slope may cause localized decomposition to form free gas, and modify the physical properties of hydrate-bearing sediments. 1 5

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Proceedings of the Annual Offshore Technology Conference

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