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Diatom influence on the production characteristics of hydrate-bearing sediments: Examples from Ulleung Basin, offshore South Korea

August 10, 2022

The Ulleung Basin Gas Hydrate field expeditions in 2007 (UBGH1) and 2010 (UBGH2) sought to assess the Basin's gas hydrate resource potential. Coring operations in both expeditions recovered evidence of gas hydrate, primarily as fracture-filling (or vein type) morphologies in mainly silt-sized, fine-grained sediment, but also as pore-occupying hydrate in the coarser-grained layers of interbedded sand and fine-grained systems. A commonality across many of these occurrences is the presence of diatoms in the fine-grained sediment. Here we tested fine-grained sediment (median grain size <12.5 μm) associated with hydrate occurrences at four UBGH2 sites (UBGH2-2-2, UBGH2-3, UBGH2-6 and UBGH2-11) to investigate potential impacts of diatoms on efforts to extract methane from hydrate, or to tap hydrocarbon reservoirs beneath hydrate-bearing sediment. Two key considerations are: the extent to which diatoms control sediment mechanical properties, and the extent to which pore-water freshening, which occurs as gas hydrate breaks down during resource extraction, alters the diatom control on sediment mechanical properties. We conducted experiments to measure sediment index properties, sedimentation behavior and compressibility to address these considerations. We relied on scanning electron microscope (SEM) imagery and X-ray powder diffraction (XRD) to characterize the sediment mineralogy. Our high-level findings are that at the ∼20–45% (by volume) diatom concentrations observed at these UBGH2 sites, sediment compressibility increases with diatom content, but diatoms only appear to increase porosity and permeability at the highest diatom concentration (∼45%). Our measurements suggest in situ compression indices of 0.35–0.55 and permeabilities on the order of 0.01milliDarcies (1 × 10−17 m2) can be anticipated at these sites. Importantly, these properties are not expected to vary significantly upon pore water freshening that accompanies gas hydrate dissociation during production.

    Publication Year 2022
    Title Diatom influence on the production characteristics of hydrate-bearing sediments: Examples from Ulleung Basin, offshore South Korea
    DOI 10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2022.105834
    Authors Junbong Jang, William F. Waite, Laura A. Stern, Joo Yong Lee
    Publication Type Article
    Publication Subtype Journal Article
    Series Title Journal of Marine and Petroleum Geology
    Index ID 70234373
    Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
    USGS Organization Earthquake Hazards Program; Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center