A new look at seafloor venting: Natural gas hydrate derivatives
Copyright 2016, Offshore Technology Conference. Natural leaks of multiphase hydrocarbons from the seafloor are widespread. Characterizing the temporal and spatial variability of these emissions provides baselines for comparison to the magnitude of anthropogenic leaks. Determining leakage rates will be important to our understanding the sustainable implementation of subsea infrastructure and the relative contribution of natural sources to global budgets. Multibeam echo soundings from cruise AT21-02 were used to define a region with several-600 to 900 m tall gas plumes in the water column directly above cratered hummocky regions of the sea floor with high backscatter in water depths of ∼ 1500 m over the Barbados Accretionary Complex. The relationship of seafloor morphologic features such as faults, craters, and mud volcanoes with vent-gas plumes in the water column is indicative of substantial emissions from this region. Disappearance of the acoustic plumes at -600 m is coincident with the top of CH4 gas hydrate stability in the water column. In the plumes, natural gas hydrate shells that form at the gas-water interface and armor the gas from dissolution during ascent likely encapsulate bubbles. Ascent-driven pressure change in the bubbles causes shattering of shells forming gas hydrate shards that rise with the ascending plume and add to its acoustic reflection strength. The multiphase fluid consisting of gas, shelled bubbles, shards, and water changes character at the top of gas hydrate stability where the hydrate dissociates and dissolves. Differentiating sources and further characterizing emissions will provide baselines and also contribute to understanding the relative importance of the different emissions sources.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
Proceedings of the Annual Offshore Technology Conference
Barnard, A., Sager, W., Snow, J., & Max, M. (2016). A new look at seafloor venting: Natural gas hydrate derivatives. Proceedings of the Annual Offshore Technology Conference, 5, 4500-4513. https://doi.org/10.4043/27283-ms