Pore Effect on the Occurrence and Formation of Gas Hydrate in Permafrost of Qilian Mountain, Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, China

Monday, 15 December 2014
Honglin Gao1, Hailong Lu1 and Zhengquan Lu2, (1)Peking University, Beijing, China, (2)Institute of Mineral Resources, CAGS, Beijing, China
Gas hydrates were found in the permafrost of Qilian Mountain, Qinghai- Tibet Plateau, China in 2008. It has been found that gas hydrates occur in Jurassic sedimentary rocks, and the hydrated gases are mainly thermogenic. Different from the gas hydrates existing in loose sands in Mallik, Mackenzie Delta, Canada and North Slope, Alaska, USA, the gas hydrates in Qilian Mountain occurred in hard rocks. For understanding the occurrence and formation mechanism of gas hydrate in hard rcok, extensive experimental investigations have been conducted to study the pore features and hydrate formation in the rocks recovered from the hydrate layers in Qilian Mountain. The structures of sedimentary rock were observed by high-resolution X-ray CT, and pore size distribution of a rock specimen was measured with the mercury-injection method. Methane hydrate was synthesized in water-saturated rocks, and the saturations of hydrate in sedimentary rocks of various types were estimated from the amount of gas released from certain volume of rock.

X-ray CT observation revealed that fractures were developed in the rocks associated with faults, while those away from faults were generally with massive structure. The mercury-injection analysis of pore features found that the porosities of the hydrate-existing rocks were generally less than 3%, and the pore sizes were generally smaller than 100 nm.

The synthesizing experiments found that the saturation of methane hydrate were generally lower than 6% of pore space in rocks, but up to 16% when fractures developed. The low hydrate saturation in Qilian sedimentary rocks has been found mainly due to the small pore size of rock. The low hydrate saturation in the rocks might be the reason for the failure of regional seismic and logging detections of gas hydrates in Qilian Mountain.