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Gas hydrates of the Peruvian outer continental margin

February 3, 1990

Gas hydrates were recovered during coring by Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Leg 112 at Sites 685 and 688 on the Peruvian outer continental margin at latitudes of 9° and 11.5°S, where water depths are 5070 and 3820 m, respectively. In addition, nearby Sites 682 and 683 yielded compelling evidence that gas hydrates are present, but gas hydrates were not directly observed there. Anomalous acoustic reflectors, known as bottom-simulating reflectors (BSRs), on marine seismic profiles from the region also provided inferential evidence that gas hydrates are present. Geothermal gradients of about 43 and 49°C/km were calculated on the basis of relations between depths to BSRs, bottom-water temperatures, and the pressure-temperature stability field of gas hydrates. Geochemical studies revealed that methane concentrations increase rapidly with depth after pore-water sulfate concentrations have been depleted. The relationship between methane and sulfate suggests that microbial processes account for the generation of methane, and the relationship between the carbon isotopic composition of methane and dissolved carbon dioxide supports this suggestion. We believe that decreasing chlorinity in pore water from squeezed sediment at the four sites results mainly from the decomposition of gas hydrates and is a dilution artifact observed as a result of the squeezing procedure. Maximum chlorinity values at or near the surface result from excess salt that comes from the formation of gas hydrates composed of freshwater. Record alkalinity attests to the intensity of diagenetic processes and has significant effects on salinity profiles at these sites. Gas hydrates were recovered at 99 and 166 meters below the seafloor (mbsf) at Site 685, and at 141 mbsf at Site 688 in Pleistocene diatomaceous mud. Methane constitutes more than 99% of the hydrocarbon gas mixture in the gas hydrates. The volumetric ratio of methane to water in the sample from Site 685 is 100, indicating that the sampled gas hydrate is either undersaturated with respect to methane or had partially decomposed during core recovery or both. The discovery of gas hydrates in lower slope deposits of the Peruvian outer continental margin extends our knowledge of gas-hydrate formation and occurrence in the Circum-Pacific region.

Publication Year 1990
Title Gas hydrates of the Peruvian outer continental margin
DOI 10.2973/
Authors Keith A. Kvenvolden, Miriam Kastner
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Proceedings of the Ocean Drilling Program: Scientific Results
Index ID 70208300
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center