Fluid and chemical fluxes in and out of sediments hosting methane hydrate deposits on Hydrate Ridge, OR, I: Hydrological provinces

Torres, M.E.; McManus, J.; Hammond, D.E.; de Angelis, M.A.; Heeschen, K.U.; Colbert, S.L.; Tryon, M.D.; Brown, K.M.; Suess, E.. 2002 Fluid and chemical fluxes in and out of sediments hosting methane hydrate deposits on Hydrate Ridge, OR, I: Hydrological provinces. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 201 (3-4). 525-540.

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Extensive deposits of methane hydrate characterize Hydrate Ridge in the Cascadia margin accretionary complex. The ridge has a northern peak at a depth of about 600 m, which is covered by extensive carbonate deposits, and an 800 m deep southern peak that is predominantly sediment covered. Samples collected with benthic instrumentation and from Alvin push cores reveal a complex hydrogeologic system where fluid and methane fluxes from the seafloor vary by several orders of magnitude at sites separated by distances of only a few meters. We identified three distinct active fluid regimes at Hydrate Ridge. The first province is represented by discrete sites of methane gas ebullition, where the bulk of the flow occurs through channels in which gas velocities reach 1 m s−1. At the northern summit of the ridge the gas discharge appears to be driven by pressure changes on a deep gas reservoir, and it is released episodically at a rate of 6×104 mol day−1 following tidal periodicity. Qualitative observations at the southern peak suggest that the gas discharge there is driven by more localized phenomena, possibly associated with destabilization of massive gas hydrate deposits at the seafloor. The second province is characterized by the presence of extensive bacterial mats that overlay sediments capped with methane hydrate crusts, both at the northern and southern summits. Here fluid typically flows out of the sediments at rates ranging from 30 to 100 cm yr−1. The third province is represented by sites colonized by vesicomyid clams, where bottom seawater flows into the sediments for at least some fraction of the time. Away from the active gas release sites, fluid flows calculated from pore water models are in agreement with estimates using published flowmeter data and numerical model calculations. Methane fluxes out of mat-covered sites range from 30 to 90 mmol m−2 day−1, whereas at clam sites the methane flux is less than 1 mmol m−2 day−1.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0012-821X
Additional Keywords: methane; hydrates; gas seeps; Cascadia subduction zone
Date made live: 01 Feb 2007 +0 (UTC)

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