Origin and Processes Highlighted By Noble Gases Geochemistry of Submarine Gas Emissions from Seeps at the Aquitaine Shelf (Bay of Biscay):

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Anne Battani1, Livio Ruffine2, Jean-Pierre Donval2, Laurent Bignon2, Magali Pujol3 and Denis Levaché3, (1)IFP Énergies nouvelles, Rueil-Malmaison Cedex, France, (2)IFREMER, Plouzané, France, (3)TOTAL - Centre Scientifique et Technique Jean Feger, Pau, France
Noble gases are widely used as tracers to both determine fluid origin and identify transfer processes governing fluid flow in natural systems.

This work presents the preliminary results and interpretations from submarine gas samples collected during the GAZCOGNE2 cruise (2013). The seepage activity and the spatial distribution of the widespread emission sites encountered at this area are described by (Dupré et al. 2014).

Gas composition shows that methane is the dominant species compared to the C2+. The associated δ13C and δD signatures point to a biogenic origin- through CO2 reduction- of the gas.

Helium concentrations are very low, ranging from 0.1 and 2.3 ppm, indicating a low residence time of the fluids in the subsurface. However, the resulting helium isotopic ratios are mostly crustal fingerprinted (around 0.02). The R/Ra values sometimes exhibit higher value of 0.2, indicative either an ASW (air saturated water) value, or the fingerprint of ancient mantle helium, the later in agreement with the geological structural context of the Parentis Basin.

Most of the samples exhibit a mixing between ASW and air, probably by excess air addition to the initial ASW concentration. The elemental Ne/Ar ratio is remarkably constant for the totality of the samples, with a value typical of ASW (0.2). This result implies that the migrating gas phase is "stripping" the original water matrix from its noble gas content, as described by Gillfillian et al., 2008. This further indicates that an intermediate reservoir of biogenic gas should be present at depth.

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.
Gilfillan S. M.V., Ballentine C. J. Holland G. a, Blagburn D.Sherwood Lollar B., Stevens S., Schoell, M., Cassidy, M. (2008) The noble gas geochemistry of natural CO2 gas reservoirs from the Colorado Plateau and Rocky Mountain provinces, USA