Dynamics of gas hydrate: case of the Congo continental slope

Type Article
Date 2004-05
Language English
Author(s) Sultan Nabil, Foucher Jean-Paul, Cochonat Pierre, Tonnerre T, Bourillet Jean-FrancoisORCID, Ondreas Helene, Cauquil E, Grauls D
Affiliation(s) IFREMER, Ctr Brest, Dept Geosci Marines, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
Total, Paris, France.
Source Marine Geology (0025-3227) (Elsevier), 2004-05 , Vol. 206 , N. 1-4 , P. 1-18
DOI 10.1016/j.margeo.2004.03.005
WOS© Times Cited 36
Keyword(s) Temperature, Stefan problem, Seafloor reflectivity, Gas hydrate, Heat flow, Finite difference, Continental margins
Abstract A numerical model is developed to study the temperature effect on stability and phase transformation of gas-hydrate. The model uses a mathematical formulation based on the enthalpy form of the conservation law of energy. The use of the enthalpy form instead of the temperature form as often done in the literature has made the problem numerically simpler. The model is then applied to describe the effect of sea bottom temperature variations on the stability of gas hydrate occurrences and on the seafloor reflectivity in sediments of the Congo continental slope. Indeed, a migrating seafloor reflectivity front is observed on 3D seimic images from two surveys performed 6 months apart and interpreted as a migrating gas hydrate stability zone. Seawater temperature variations were recorded over a 230-day period, At the seafloor, the amplitude of these variations could explain a 75-m shift in water depth of the upper limit of the gas hydrate stability zone. However, the response of the sediment to a perturbation applied at the seafloor is not immediate because of the effects of thermal diffusion and of latent heat of hydrate dissociation. Thermal modelling shows that the depth of penetration of these perturbations is around 2 in for the saturated sediment and around 6 m for hydrate-bearing sediments (hydrate fraction of 0.1). The switch between gas and gas hydrate generated by these temperature fluctuations concern only the first meter of sediment. These appear too small to explain the migration of the seafloor reflectivity, considering that the wavelength of the seismic signal is significantly larger (around 10 m). However, for temperature fluctuations with larger wavelength the switch between gas and gas hydrate will be more important and consequently could explain the reflectivity contrast as a possible migrating gas or gas hydrate front.
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