Geological settings and seafloor morphodynamic evolution linked to methane seepage

Van Landeghem, Katrien J. J. and Niemann, Helge and Steinle, LeaI and O’Reilly, Shane S. and Huws, Dei G. and Croker, Peter F.. (2015) Geological settings and seafloor morphodynamic evolution linked to methane seepage. Geo-Marine Letters, 35 (4). pp. 289-304.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/40216/

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Methane seeps have been shown to be a powerful agent in modifying seabed morphology, amongst others by cementation processes such as the formation of methane-derived authigenic carbonates (MDACs). The cements stabilise mobile sediment particles and thereby promote the formation of edifices such as mounds on various scales. The release of methane from shallow subsurface sources, when concentrated in seeps, has proven hazardous to offshore construction activities. In this paper, methane cycling and MDAC precipitation is explored as a potential “finger on the pulse” for the recognition of shallow gas pockets and active gas seepage. This would provide a valuable planning tool for seabed engineering developments in areas of potential gas seepage. Measurements of methane concentrations in the Irish Sea are correlated with a unique record of longer-term morphological evolution (up to 11 years) of MDAC structures and subsurface geological settings which would favour the build-up of shallow gas. It was found that gas seepage activity associated with fault zones correlates with carbonate mound steepness. Cessation of gas seepage results in a relatively slow process of erosion and burial of the mounds, eventually producing a subdued carbonate mound morphology after several decades. The Quaternary glacial legacy equally seems to define the distribution and geometry of the MDAC structures. In this case, methane gas locally concentrated in sands and gravels capped by clayey glacial sediments may percolate upwards to the seafloor. A link between methane seeps and the formation of unusually large, trochoidally shaped sediment waves observed on continental shelves worldwide is deemed unlikely. However, the observations suggest that gas percolating through sediment waves may be capped by muddy sediments which have deposited on the sediment waves due to anoxic conditions or eroded from a neighbouring cliff. Other sediment waves in the Irish Sea were found to have a step-like morphology similar to that documented in the neighbouring MDAC cemented seafloor. These processes may influence sediment waves dynamics and warrant further investigation.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Geowissenschaften > Aquatic and Isotope Biogeochemistry (Lehmann)
UniBasel Contributors:Niemann, Helge
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:18 Jun 2018 11:35
Deposited On:15 Jun 2016 09:19

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