Pingos, craters and methane-leaking seafloor in the central Barents Sea: signals of decomposing gas hydrate releasing gas from deeper hydrocarbon reservoirs?

Tuesday, 15 December 2015: 12:05
3009 (Moscone West)
Karin Andreassen, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway
A cluster of large craters and mounds appear on the gas-leaking sea floor in the central Barents Sea around the upper limit for methane hydrate stability, covering over 360 km2. We use multibeam bathymetry, single-beam echo sounder and high-resolution seismic data to reveal the detailed geomorphology and internal structure of craters and mounds, map the distribution gas in the water and to unravel the subsurface plumbing system and sources of gas leakage. Distinct morphologies and geophysical signatures of mounds and craters are inferred to reflect different development stages of shallow gas hydrate formation and dissociation. Over 600 gas flares extending from the sea floor into the water are mapped, many of these from the seafloor mounds and craters, but most from their flanks and surroundings. Analysis of geophysical data link gas flares in the water, craters and mounds to seismic indications of gas advection from deeper hydrocarbon reservoirs along faults and fractures. We present a conceptual model for formation of mounds, craters and gas leakage of the area.