Early Diagenetic Changes of Sediment Pore Properties Beneath the Seafloor and Their Contributions to Gas Hydrate Concentration in the Eastern Margin of Japan Sea
Abstract:Recently many of the chimney-shape gas hydrate concentrated beneath the seafloor have been confirmed off Shimane and off Akita as well as off Joetsu in the eastern margin of Japan Sea, which are quite different from the occurrences of pore space hydrate filling the intergranular pore system of sands recognized in Nankai Trough, Mallik and other sites. Sediment samples below the seafloor were retrieved in 2010 up to 40 m long at the Umitaka Spur, Joetsu Channel, Toyama Trough, Japan Basin, Nishi Tsugaru and Okushiri Ridge areas. Small amounts of sandy sediment have been retrieved as thin intercalations in Pleistocene and Holocene muddy layers transported approximately around 3 to 30 ka according to the tephra ages, where supplying sediments might have not been abundant due to sea level fluctuation during the Pleistocene ice age.
It is important to clarify the relationship between burial depths and absolute porosities of the argillaceous sediments in relation to early diagenesis. Macroscopic observations and descriptions, measurements of porosity and permeability, SEM (scanning electron microscope) observations, and X-ray diffraction analyses have been performed. They consist of silt- to clay-grained particles, and they sometimes contain very fine- to medium-grained thin sandy layers. Average porosities of these fine-grained sediments are 50 % in all study areas, which quickly reduce from 60% to less than 50% within 10 meters and gradually decrease to the depth. However, mean pore sizes in the Nishi Tsugaru are around 1000 nm while 100 nm in the other areas, which tend to decrease with depth. It is suggested that repacking of the muddy particles gradually advances by mechanical compaction, which may crucially influence permeability.
They usually contain much opal-A, quartz, feldspar, illite and smectite that do not change definitely with depth. By optical and microscopic observations, diatom tests, foraminifers and framboidal pyrites are commonly observed, and, in particular, the shapes of diatom are usually various, dominantly fragmental and infrequently preserved. It is remarked that physical diagenesis proceeds first due to mechanical compaction, whereas chemical diagenesis advances very slowly in early diagenesis.
This study was performed as a part of the MH21 Research Consortium on methane hydrate in Japan.