Gas hydrates in shallow deposits of the Amsterdam mud volcano, Anaximander Mountains, Northeastern Mediterranean Sea Journal Article uri icon

DCO ID 11121/8263-5903-9728-7367-CC

in language

  • eng

year of publication

  • 2010


  • We investigated gas hydrate in situ inventories as well as the composition and principal transport mechanisms of fluids expelled at the Amsterdam mud volcano (AMV; 2,025 m water depth) in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Pressure coring (the only technique preventing hydrates from decomposition during recovery) was used for the quantification of light hydrocarbons in near-surface deposits. The cores (up to 2.5 m in length) were retrieved with an autoclave piston corer, and served for analyses of gas quantities and compositions, and pore-water chemistry. For comparison, gravity cores from sites at the summit and beyond the AMV were analyzed. A prevalence of thermogenic light hydrocarbons was inferred from average C(1)/C(2+) ratios < 35 and delta(13)C-CH(4) values of -50.6aEuro degrees. Gas venting from the seafloor indicated methane oversaturation, and volumetric gas-sediment ratios of up to 17.0 in pressure cores taken from the center demonstrated hydrate presence at the time of sampling. Relative enrichments in ethane, propane, and iso-butane in gas released from pressure cores, and from an intact hydrate piece compared to venting gas suggest incipient crystallization of hydrate structure II (sII). Nonetheless, the co-existence of sI hydrate can not be excluded from our dataset. Hydrates fill up to 16.7% of pore volume within the sediment interval between the base of the sulfate zone and the maximum sampling depth at the summit. The concave-down shapes of pore-water concentration profiles recorded in the center indicate the influence of upward-directed advection of low-salinity fluids/fluidized mud. Furthermore, the SO (4) (2-) and Ba(2+) pore-water profiles in the central part of the AMV demonstrate that sulfate reduction driven by the anaerobic oxidation of methane is complete at depths between 30 cm and 70 cm below seafloor. Our results indicate that methane oversaturation, high hydrostatic pressure, and elevated pore-water activity caused by low salinity promote fixing of considerable proportions of light hydrocarbons in shallow hydrates even at the summit of the AMV, and possibly also of other MVs in the region. Depending on their crystallographic structure, however, hydrates will already decompose and release hydrocarbon masses if sediment temperatures exceed ca. 19.3A degrees C and 21.0A degrees C, respectively. Based on observations from other mud volcanoes, the common occurrence of such temperatures induced by heat flux from below into the immediate subsurface appears likely for the AMV.


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