4D Time-Lapse Seismic Analysis of Active Gas Seepage Systems on the Vestnesa Ridge, Offshore W-Svalbard

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 3:10 PM
Stefan Bunz, Sandra Hurter, Andreia Aletia Plaza-Faverola and Jurgen Mienert, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, CAGE-Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment, and Climate, Dept. of Geology, Tromso, Norway
Active gas venting occurs on the Vestnesa Ridge, an elongated sediment drift north of the Molloy Transform and just east of the Molloy Ridge, one of the shortest segments of the slow spreading North-Atlantic Ridge system. The crest of the Vestnesa Ridge at water depth between 1200-1300 m is pierced with fluid-flow features. Seafloor pockmarks vary in size up to 1 km in diameter with significant morphological features consisting of small ridges, diapiric structures and small pits. Detailed hydro-acoustic surveying shows that gas mostly emanates from the small-scale pits, where also hydrates have been recovered by sediment sampling. High-resolution P-Cable 3D seismic data acquired in 2012 show vertical focused fluid flow features beneath the seafloor pockmarks. These co-called chimneys extend down to the free-gas zone underneath a bottom-simulating reflection (BSR). Here, they link up with small fault systems that might provide pathways to the deeper subsurface. The chimney features show a high variability in their acoustic characteristics with alternating blanked or masked zones and high-amplitude anomalies scattered through the whole vertical extent of the chimneys. The amplitude anomalies indicate high-impedance contrasts due to the likely presence of gas or a high-velocity material like gas hydrates or carbonates. In most cases, the high-amplitude anomalies line up along specific vertical pathways that connect nicely with the small-scale pits at the surface where gas bubbles seep from the seafloor. We re-acquired the 3D seismic survey in 2013 for time-lapse seismic studies in order to better understand the origin of the amplitude anomalies and in order to track potentially migrating gas fronts up along the chimney structure. The time-lapse seismic analysis indicates several areas, where gas migration may have led to changes in acoustic properties of the subsurface. These areas are located along chimney structures and the BSR. This work provides a basis for better understanding of the temporal and spatial scales of subsurface fluid migration through vertical, focused fluid flow structures. It is part of CAGE – Centre of Excellence for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (www.cage.uit.no).