Instrumented Pressure Testing Chamber (IPTC) Characterization of Methane Gas Hydrate-Bearing Pressure Cores Collected from the Methane Production Test Site in the Eastern Nankai Trough, Offshore Japan

Monday, 15 December 2014
William F Waite1, J Carlos Santamarina2, Sheng Dai3, William J Winters1, Jun Yoneda4, Yoshihiro Konno4, Jiro Nagao5, Kiyofumi Suzuki6, Tetsuya Fujii6, David H Mason1 and Emile Bergeron1, (1)US Geological Survey, Woods Hole, MA, United States, (2)Georgia Institute of Technology Main Campus, Atlanta, GA, United States, (3)National Energy Technology Laboratory Morgantown, Morgantown, WV, United States, (4)AIST - National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Tsukuba, Japan, (5)AIST - National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Sapporo, Japan, (6)Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation, Tokyo, Japan
Pressure cores obtained at the Daini-Atsumi Knoll in the eastern Nankai Trough, the site of the methane hydrate production test completed by the Methane Hydrate Resources in Japan (MH21) project in March 2013, were recovered from ~300 meters beneath the sea floor at close to in situ pressure. Cores were subsequently stored at ~20 MPa and ~5°C, which maintained hydrate in the cores within stability conditions. Pressure core physical properties were measured at 10 MPa and ~6°C, also within the methane hydrate stability field, using the IPTC and other Pressure Core Characterization Tools (PCCTs). Discrete IPTC measurements were carried out in strata ranging from silty sands to clayey silts within the turbidite sequences recovered in the cores. As expected, hydrate saturations were greatest in more permeable coarser-grained layers. Key results include:

1) Where hydrate saturation exceeded 40% in sandy sediments, the gas hydrate binds sediment grains within the matrix. The pressure core analyses yielded nearly in situ mechanical properties despite the absence of effective stress in the IPTC.

2) In adjacent fine-grained sediment (hydrate saturation < 15%), hydrate did not significantly bind the sediment. IPTC results in these locations were consistent with the zero effective-stress limit of comparable measurements made in PCCT devices that are designed to restore the specimen’s in situ effective stress.

In sand-rich intervals with high gas hydrate saturations, the measured compressional and shear wave velocities suggest that hydrate acts as a homogeneously-distributed, load-bearing member of the bulk sediment. The sands with high gas hydrate saturations were prone to fracturing (brittle failure) during insertion of the cone penetrometer and electrical conductivity probes.

Authors would like to express their sincere appreciation to MH21 and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry for permitting this work to be disclosed at the 2014 Fall AGU meeting.