Methane, ethane, ethene, propane, and propene are common hydrocarbon gases in near-surface sediment from offshore areas in the southern Pacific Ocean near Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tonga, New Zealand, and Antarctica. Sea floor sites for sampling of sediment were selected on the basis of anomalies in marine seismic records, and the samples were intentionally biased toward finding possible thermogenic hydrocarbon gases. In none of the areas, however, were thermogenic hydrocarbons clearly identified. The hydrocarbon gases that were found appear to be mainly the products of in situ microbial processes. ?? 1988 Springer-Verlag New York Inc.