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Evidence from three-dimensional seismic tomography for a substantial accumulation of gas hydrate in a fluid-escape chimney in the Nyegga pockmark field, offshore Norway

Abstract : In recent years, it has become evident that features commonly called gas chimneys provide major routes for methane to pass through the methane-hydrate stability zone in continental margins and escape to the ocean. One of many such chimneys lying beneath pockmarks in the southeastern Vøring Plateau off Norway was investigated with a high-resolution seismic experiment employing a 2-D array of sixteen 4-component ocean bottom seismic recorders at approximately 100 m separation and a dense network of shots to define the 3-D variation of the chimney's structure and seismic properties. The tomographic model derived from P wave travel times shows that P wave velocity inside the chimney is up to 300 m/s higher than in the surrounding strata within the methane-hydrate stability zone. The zone of anomalously high velocity, about 500 m wide near its base, narrowing to about 200 m near the seabed, extends to a depth of 250 m below the seafloor. The depth extent of this zone and absence of high velocity beneath the base of the methane-hydrate stability field make it more likely that it contains hydrate rather than carbonate. If a predominantly fracture-filling model is appropriate for the formation of hydrate in low-permeability sediment, the maximum hydrate concentration in the chimney is estimated to be 14%–27% by total volume, depending on how host-sediment properties are affected by hydrate formation. Doming of the strata penetrated by the chimney appears to be associated with the emplacement of hydrate, accompanying the invasion of the gas hydrate stability zone by free gas.
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A. Plaza-Faverola, Graham K. Westbrook, Stephan Ker, Russel J. K. Exley, A. Gailler, et al.. Evidence from three-dimensional seismic tomography for a substantial accumulation of gas hydrate in a fluid-escape chimney in the Nyegga pockmark field, offshore Norway. Journal of Geophysical Research : Solid Earth, American Geophysical Union, 2010, 115, pp.B08104. ⟨10.1029/2009JB007078⟩. ⟨insu-00563995⟩

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