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Pressure core based onshore laboratory analysis on mechanical properties of hydrate-bearing sediments recovered during India's National Gas Hydrate Program Expedition (NGHP) 02

October 1, 2019

A solid understanding of the mechanical properties of hydrate-bearing sediments is essential for the safe and economic development of methane hydrate as an energy resource. In 2015, 104 pressure cores were collected, recovering sediments from above and within concentrated hydrate reservoirs in the Krishna-Godavari Basin, as part of India’s National Gas Hydrate Program Expedition 02 (NGHP-02). These cores provided minimally-disturbed sediment, retained at pressures and temperatures within the hydrate stability field, for the first-ever systematic triaxial test of dozens of subsections of hydrate-bearing pressure core sediments. Post-cruise testing in Japan, evaluated multiple physical and hydro-mechanical properties. Consolidated drained and undrained triaxial compression tests, uniaxial (unconfined in effective stress) compression tests, multistage consolidation and compression tests, and alternating strain-rate compression tests were also performed. Triaxial compression test results showed an increase in the strength and stiffness, as well as the positive dilatancy, with increasing hydrate saturation, supporting previous research on laboratory-formed and natural hydrate-bearing sediments. However, some strength results in this study were low compared to prior analyses of hydrate-bearing sediments. This low strength was likely caused by the host sediment’s small particle size and loose packing, and the relatively slow applied compression strain rate. Results from uniaxial compression and multi-step compression tests confirmed that pore-space hydrates produce an apparent cohesion in hydrate-bearing sediment. More severe strength loss in sediments during the initial loading for multistage compression was also attributable to the presence of hydrates. The applicability of this multistage compression test for determining in situ properties was not confirmed, but results do provide bounds on the in situ values. Finally, from the variable strain-rate tests, it was revealed that strength in hydrate-bearing sediment has a large strain-rate dependence.