Natural Gas Seepage Along the Edge of the Aquitaine Shelf (France): Origin and Flux Measurements

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Livio Ruffine1, Jean-Pierre Donval1, Anne Battani2, Laurent Bignon1, Claire Croguennec1, Jean-Claude Caprais1, Dominique Birot1, Germain Bayon1, Nadine Lantéri1, Denis Levaché3 and Stéphanie Dupré1, (1)IFREMER, Plouzané, France, (2)IFP Énergies nouvelles, Rueil-Malmaison Cedex, France, (3)TOTAL - Centre Scientifique et Technique Jean Feger, Pau, France
A newly discovered and highly active seepage area has been acoustically mapped at the western edge of the Aquitaine Shelf in the Bay of Biscay [Dupré et al., 2014].

Three selected seeping sites have been investigated with a Remotely Operated Vehicle. All sites were characterized by vigorous gas emissions, and the occurrence of massive carbonate crusts and bacterial mats at the seafloor. Nine seeps have been sampled with the PEGAZ sampler. The latter allowed gas-bubble sampling and preservation at in situpressure, together with gas-flux measurement through its graduated transparent cone.

The C2+ fraction of the gas samples accounts for less than 0.06 %-mol of the total composition. Both the abundance of methane and dD and d13C isotopic analyses of the hydrocarbons indicate a biogenic source generated by microbial reduction of carbon dioxide [Whiticar et al., 1986]. The analyses of the associated noble gases also provide further support for a shallow-depth generation. While sharing the same origin, the collected samples are different in other respects, such as the measured d13C values for carbon dioxide and the hydrocarbons. This is the case in particular for methane, with displays values in between -66.1 and -72.7 ‰. We hypothesized that such variations are the result of multiple gas-transport processes along with the occurrence of hydrocarbon oxidation at different rates within the sedimentary column. The measured gas fluxes are extremely heterogeneous from one seep to another, ranging from 18 to 193 m3.yr-1. These values will be discussed in detail by comparing them with values obtained from different measurement techniques at other gas-seeping sites.

The GAZCOGNE study is co-funded by TOTAL and IFREMER as part of the PAMELA (Passive Margin Exploration Laboratories) scientific project.


Dupré, S., L. Berger, N. Le Bouffant, C. Scalabrin, and J. F. Bourillet (2014), Fluid emissions at the Aquitaine Shelf (Bay of Biscay, France): a biogenic origin or the expression of hydrocarbon leakage?, Continental Shelf Research, doi:10.1016/j.csr.2014.07.004.

Whiticar, M. J., E. Faber, and M. Schoell (1986), Biogenic methane formation in marine and freshwater environments: CO2 reduction vs. acetate fermentation--Isotope evidence, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 50(5), 693-709.