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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2018-07-03
    Description: The Porcupine Basin is a Mesozoic failed rift located in the North Atlantic margin (SW Ireland). Here, we present two sets of tomographic images obtained with travel-time tomography of two different active-source seismic data sets: ocean bottom seismic (OBS) data and long-streamer data. The study provides new insights into geological processes that occurred at different scales and geological stages during the formation of the Porcupine Basin. OBS-derived images show the Vp structure of the uppermost lithosphere and the geometry of the Moho across and along the basin axis, providing insights into formation processes that occurred during lithospheric extension in the Mesozoic. In particular, these tomographic results together with neighboring seismic reflection lines provide crustal stretching (βc) estimates of ∼2.5 in the north at 52.5N and 〉 10 in the south at 51.7N. These values suggest that no crustal embrittlement occurred in the northernmost region, and that rifting has potentially reached crustal breakup in the southern part of the study area. Tomographic images reveal that mantle velocities decrease across the basin axis from east to west. These variations occur in a region where βc is within the range at which crustal embrittlement and serpentinisation are possible (βc 3-4). Across the basin axis, the lowest seismic velocity in the mantle spatially coincides with the maximum amount of crustal faulting, indicating fault-controlled mantle hydration. Mantle velocities also suggest that the degree of serpentinisation, together with the amount of crustal faulting, increases southwards along the basin axis. Seismic reflection lines show a major detachment fault surface that grows southwards along the basin axis and is only visible where the inferred degree of serpentinisation is 〉 15 %. This is consistent with laboratory measurements that show that at this degree of serpentinisation, mantle rocks are sufficiently weak to allow low-angle normal faulting. In contrast, the long-streamer tomographic image shows the Vp structure of the post-rift section in much more detail than OBS-derived images providing insights into basin-scale processes that occurred after lithospheric extension during the Cenozoic. The tomographic image reveals faster vertical velocity gradient in the center of the basin than in the flanks. This variation together with a relatively thick sediment accumulation in the center of the basin suggests higher overburden pressure and compaction compared to the margins. This suggests fluid flow driven by differential compaction towards the margins of the basin. The model also reveals two prominent vertical velocity anomalies located at the western margin of the basin, coinciding with the location of a reactivated basin-bounding fault. Comparing the corresponding time-migrated seismic section with the tomographic model, we observe that the hanging wall of the basin-bounding fault is not significantly affected by major normal faulting and yet is associated with comparatively lower seismic velocities. This result together with exploration well data suggests high effective porosities within the hanging wall suggesting potential overpressured areas. Our results suggest that the western basin-bounding fault is acting as a barrier for fluid migration causing overpressured areas over the western flank.
    Type: Conference or Workshop Item , NonPeerReviewed
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2019-02-01
    Description: Highlights • Low upper mantle seismic velocity indicates mantle hydration in the Porcupine Basin. • Crustal stretching factors suggest crustal break up in the Porcupine Basin. • Fault-controlled mantle hydration explains across-axis mantle velocity variations. • Along-axis variations in mantle hydration control the development of low-angle faults. Abstract Mantle hydration (serpentinisation) at magma-poor rifted margins is thought to play a key role in controlling the kinematics of low-angle faults and thus, hyperextension and crustal breakup. However, because geophysical data principally provide observations of the final structure of a margin, little is known about the evolution of serpentinisation and how this governs tectonics during hyperextension. Here we present new observational evidence on how crustal strain-dependent serpentinisation influences hyperextension from rifting to possible crustal breakup along the axis of the Porcupine Basin, offshore Ireland. We present three new P-wave seismic velocity models that show the seismic structure of the uppermost lithosphere and the geometry of the Moho across and along the basin axis. We use neighbouring seismic reflection lines to our tomographic models to estimate crustal stretching ( ) of ∼2.5 in the north at 52.5° N and 〉10 in the south at 51.7° N. These values suggest that no crustal embrittlement occurred in the northernmost region, and that rifting may have progressed to crustal breakup in the southern part of the study area. We observed a decrease in mantle velocities across the basin axis from east to west. These variations occur in a region where is within the range at which crustal embrittlement and serpentinisation are possible ( 3–4). Across the basin axis, the lowest seismic velocity in the mantle spatially coincides with the maximum amount of crustal faulting, indicating fault-controlled mantle hydration. Mantle velocities also suggest that the degree of serpentinisation, together with the amount of crustal faulting, increases southwards along the basin axis. Seismic reflection lines show a major detachment fault surface that grows southwards along the basin axis and is only visible where the inferred degree of serpentinisation is 〉15%. This observation is consistent with laboratory measurements that show that at this degree of serpentinisation, mantle rocks are sufficiently weak to allow low-angle normal faulting. Based on these results, we propose two alternative formation models for the Porcupine Basin. The first involves a northward propagation of the hyperextension processes, while the second model suggests higher extension rates in the centre of the basin than in the north. Both scenarios postulate that the amount of crustal strain determines the extent and degree of serpentinisation, which eventually controls the development of detachments faults with advanced stretching.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2017-09-01
    Description: Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and large-scale rapid release of methane from hydrate may have contributed to past abrupt climate change inferred from the geological record. The discovery in 2008 of over 250 plumes of methane gas escaping from the seabed of the West Svalbard continental margin at ~400 m water depth (mwd) suggests that hydrate is dissociating in the present-day Arctic. Here we model the dynamic response of hydrate-bearing sediments over a period of 2300 years and investigate ocean warming as a possible cause for present-day and likely future dissociation of hydrate, within 350–800 mwd, west of Svalbard. Future temperatures are given by two climate models, HadGEM2 and CCSM4, and scenarios, Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) 8.5 and 2.6. Our results suggest that over the next three centuries 5.3–29 Gg yr−1 of methane may be released to the Arctic Ocean on the West Svalbard margin.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2015-01-07
    Type: Conference or Workshop Item , NonPeerReviewed
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  • 5
    Publication Date: 2018-04-27
    Description: Active gas venting occurs on the uppermost continental slope off west Svalbard, close to and upslope from the present-day intersection of the base of methane hydrate stability (BMHS) with the seabed in about 400 m water depth in the inter-fan region between the Kongsfjorden and Isfjorden cross-shelf troughs. From an integrated analysis of high-resolution, two-dimensional, pre-stack migrated seismic reflection profiles and multibeam bathymetric data, we map out a bottom simulating reflector (BSR) in the inter-fan region and analyze the subsurface gas migration and accumulation. Gas seeps mostly occur in the zone from which the BMHS at the seabed has retreated over the recent past (1975–2008) as a consequence of a bottom water temperature rise of 1°C. The overall margin-parallel alignment of the gas seeps is not related to fault-controlled gas migration, as seismic evidence of faults is absent. There is no evidence for a BSR close to the gas flare region in the upper slope but numerous gas pockets exist directly below the predicted BMHS. While the contour following trend of the gas seeps could be a consequence of retreat of the landward limit of the BMHS and gas hydrate dissociation, the scattered distribution of seeps within the probable hydrate dissociation corridor and the occurrence of a cluster of seeps outside the predicted BMHS limit and near the shelf break indicate the role of lithological heterogeneity in focusing gas migration.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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  • 6
    Publication Date: 2019-04-04
    Description: The West Spitsbergen Current, which flows northward along the western Svalbard continental slope, transports warm and saline Atlantic water (AW) into the Arctic Ocean. A combined analysis of highresolution seismic images and hydrographic sections across this current has uncovered the oceanographic processes involved in horizontal and vertical mixing of AW. At the shelf break, where a strong horizontal temperature gradient exists east of the warmest AW, isopycnal interleaving of warm AW and surrounding colder waters is observed. Strong seismic reflections characterize these interleaving features, with a negative polarity reflection arising from an interface of warm water overlying colder water. A seismic-derived sound speed image reveals the extent and lateral continuity of such interleaving layers. There is evidence of obliquely aligned internal waves emanating from the slope at 450–500 m. They follow the predicted trajectory of internal S2 tidal waves and can promote vertical mixing between Atlantic and Arctic-origin waters.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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  • 7
    Publication Date: 2019-02-01
    Description: Seafloor massive sulphides (SMSs) are regarded as a potential future resource to satisfy the growing global demand of metals including copper, zinc and gold. Aside from mining and retrieving profitable amounts of massive sulphides from the seafloor, the present challenge is to detect and delineate significant SMS accumulations, which are generally located near mid-ocean ridges and along submarine volcanic arc and backarc spreading centres. Currently, several geophysical technologies are being developed to detect and quantify SMS occurrences that often exhibit measurable contrasts in their physical parameters compared to the surrounding host rock. Here, we use a short, fixed-offset controlled source electromagnetic (CSEM) system and a coincident-loop transient electromagnetic (TEM) system, which in theory allow the detection of SMS in the shallow seafloor due to a significant electrical conductivity contrast to their surroundings. In 2016, CSEM and TEM experiments were carried out at several locations near the Trans- Atlantic Geotraverse hydrothermal field to investigate shallow occurrences of massive sulphides below the seafloor. Measurements were conducted in an area that contains distinct SMS sites located several kilometres off-axis from the Mid-Atlantic ridge, some of which are still connected to hydrothermal activity and others where hydrothermal activity has ceased. Based on the quality of the acquired data, both experiments were operationally successful. However, the data analysis indicates bias caused by three-dimensional (3D) effects of the rough bathymetry in the study area and, thus, data interpretation remains challenging. Therefore, we study the influence of 3D bathymetry for marine CSEM and TEM experiments, focusing on shallow 3D conductors located beneath mound-like structures.We analyse synthetic inversion models for attributes associated with 3D distortions of CSEM and TEM data that are not sufficiently accounted for in conventional 1D (TEM) and 2D (CSEM) interpretation schemes. Before an adequate quantification of SMS in the region is feasible, these 3D effects need to be studied to avoid over/underestimation of SMS using the acquired EM data. The sensitivity of CSEM and TEM to bathymetry is investigated by means of 3D forward modelling, followed by 1D (TEM) and 2D (CSEM) inversion of the synthetic data using realistic error conditions. Subsequently, inversion models of the synthetic 3D data are analysed and compared to models derived from the measured data to illustrate that 3D distortions are evident in the recorded data sets.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed , info:eu-repo/semantics/article
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  • 8
    Publication Date: 2016-04-18
    Description: Gas hydrate-related bottom-simulating reflectors mark the phase boundary between hydrate and free gas in the subsurface, and therefore may be used to estimate geothermal gradients and hence heat flow. The depth and temperature of the phase boundary depend on the composition of the hydrateforming gas and of the pore fluid. In the absence of direct sampling, these compositions remain unknown. We develop an alternative approach that is less sensitive to compositional uncertainties and can be applied when the bottom-simulating reflector is densely sampled in a region with significant seabed relief. We apply this approach to a three-dimensional seismic dataset from the eastern Black Sea.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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  • 9
    Publication Date: 2019-09-23
    Description: Large reservoirs of methane present in Arctic marine sediments are susceptible to rapid warming, promoting increasing methane emissions. Gas bubbles in the water column can be detected, and flow rates can be quantified using hydroacoustic survey methods, making it possible to monitor spatiotemporal variability. We present methane (CH4) bubble flow rates derived from hydroacoustic data sets acquired during 11 research expeditions to the western Svalbard continental margin (2008-2014). Three seepage areas emit in total 725-1,125 t CH4/year, and bubble fluxes are up to 2 kg.m(-2).year (-1). Bubble fluxes vary between different surveys, but no clear trend can be identified. Flux variability analyses suggest that two areas are geologically interconnected, displaying alternating flow changes. Spatial migration of bubble seepage was observed to follow seasonal changes in the theoretical landward limit of the hydrate stability zone, suggesting that formation/dissociation of shallow hydrates, modulated by bottom water temperatures, influences seafloor bubble release. Plain Language Summary It has been speculated that the release of methane (a potent greenhouse gas) from the seafloor in some Arctic Ocean regions is triggered by warming seawater. Emissions of gas bubbles from the seafloor can be detected by ship-mounted sonars. In 2008, a methane seepage area west of Svalbard was hydroacoustically detected for the first time. This seepage was hypothesized to be caused by dissociation of hydrates (ice-like crystals consisting of methane and water) due to ocean warming. We present an analysis of sonar data from 11 surveys conducted between 2008 and 2014. This study is the first comparison of methane seepage-related hydroacoustic data over such a long period. The hydroacoustic mapping and quantification method allowed us to assess the locations and intensity of gas bubble release, and how these parameters change over time, providing necessary data for numerical flux and climate models. No trend of increasing gas flow was identified. However, we observed seasonal variations potentially controlled by seasonal formation and dissociation of shallow hydrates. The hydrate formation/dissociation process is likely controlled by changes of bottom water temperatures. Alternating gas emissions between two neighboring areas indicate the existence of fluid pathway networks within the sediments.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
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  • 10
    Publication Date: 2019-09-25
    Description: Highlights • There is direct and indirect evidence for hydrate occurrence in several areas around Europe. • Hydrate is particularly widespread offshore Norway and Svalbard and in the Black Sea. • Hydrate occurrence often coincides with conventional thermogenic hydrocarbon provinces. • The regional abundance of hydrate in Europe is poorly known. Abstract Large national programs in the United States and several Asian countries have defined and characterised their marine methane hydrate occurrences in some detail, but European hydrate occurrence has received less attention. The European Union-funded project “Marine gas hydrate – an indigenous resource of natural gas for Europe” (MIGRATE) aimed to determine the European potential inventory of exploitable gas hydrate, to assess current technologies for their production, and to evaluate the associated risks. We present a synthesis of results from a MIGRATE working group that focused on the definition and assessment of hydrate in Europe. Our review includes the western and eastern margins of Greenland, the Barents Sea and onshore and offshore Svalbard, the Atlantic margin of Europe, extending south to the northwestern margin of Morocco, the Mediterranean Sea, the Sea of Marmara, and the western and southern margins of the Black Sea. We have not attempted to cover the high Arctic, the Russian, Ukrainian and Georgian sectors of the Black Sea, or overseas territories of European nations. Following a formalised process, we defined a range of indicators of hydrate presence based on geophysical, geochemical and geological data. Our study was framed by the constraint of the hydrate stability field in European seas. Direct hydrate indicators included sampling of hydrate; the presence of bottom simulating reflectors in seismic reflection profiles; gas seepage into the ocean; and chlorinity anomalies in sediment cores. Indirect indicators included geophysical survey evidence for seismic velocity and/or resistivity anomalies, seismic reflectivity anomalies or subsurface gas escape structures; various seabed features associated with gas escape, and the presence of an underlying conventional petroleum system. We used these indicators to develop a database of hydrate occurrence across Europe. We identified a series of regions where there is substantial evidence for hydrate occurrence (some areas offshore Greenland, offshore west Svalbard, the Barents Sea, the mid-Norwegian margin, the Gulf of Cadiz, parts of the eastern Mediterranean, the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea) and regions where the evidence is more tenuous (other areas offshore Greenland and of the eastern Mediterranean, onshore Svalbard, offshore Ireland and offshore northwest Iberia). We provide an overview of the evidence for hydrate occurrence in each of these regions. We conclude that around Europe, areas with strong evidence for the presence of hydrate commonly coincide with conventional thermogenic hydrocarbon provinces.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed , info:eu-repo/semantics/article
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