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Grain-scale imaging and compositional characterization of cryo-preserved India NGHP 01 gas-hydrate-bearing cores

August 13, 2014

We report on grain-scale characteristics and gas analyses of gas-hydrate-bearing samples retrieved by NGHP Expedition 01 as part of a large-scale effort to study gas hydrate occurrences off the eastern-Indian Peninsula and along the Andaman convergent margin. Using cryogenic scanning electron microscopy, X-ray spectroscopy, and gas chromatography, we investigated gas hydrate grain morphology and distribution within sediments, gas hydrate composition, and methane isotopic composition of samples from Krishna–Godavari (KG) basin and Andaman back-arc basin borehole sites from depths ranging 26 to 525 mbsf. Gas hydrate in KG-basin samples commonly occurs as nodules or coarse veins with typical hydrate grain size of 30–80 μm, as small pods or thin veins 50 to several hundred microns in width, or disseminated in sediment. Nodules contain abundant and commonly isolated macropores, in some places suggesting the original presence of a free gas phase. Gas hydrate also occurs as faceted crystals lining the interiors of cavities. While these vug-like structures constitute a relatively minor mode of gas hydrate occurrence, they were observed in near-seafloor KG-basin samples as well as in those of deeper origin (>100 mbsf) and may be original formation features. Other samples exhibit gas hydrate grains rimmed by NaCl-bearing material, presumably produced by salt exclusion during original hydrate formation. Well-preserved microfossil and other biogenic detritus are also found within several samples, most abundantly in Andaman core material where gas hydrate fills microfossil crevices. The range of gas hydrate modes of occurrence observed in the full suite of samples suggests a range of formation processes were involved, as influenced by local in situconditions. The hydrate-forming gas is predominantly methane with trace quantities of higher molecular weight hydrocarbons of primarily microbial origin. The composition indicates the gas hydrate is Structure I.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2014
Title Grain-scale imaging and compositional characterization of cryo-preserved India NGHP 01 gas-hydrate-bearing cores
DOI 10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2014.07.027
Authors Laura A. Stern, T.D. Lorenson
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Marine and Petroleum Geology
Series Number
Index ID 70134770
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earthquake Science Center