Fluid emissions at the Aquitaine Shelf (Bay of Biscay, France): A biogenic origin or the expression of hydrocarbon leakage?

Type Article
Date 2014-10
Language English
Author(s) Dupre StephanieORCID1, Berger LaurentORCID2, Le Bouffant Naig2, Scalabrin CarlaORCID1, Bourillet Jean-FrancoisORCID1
Affiliation(s) 1 : IFREMER, Unite Geosci Marines, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
2 : IFREMER, Unite Navires & Syst Embarques, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
Source Continental Shelf Research (0278-4343) (Pergamon-elsevier Science Ltd), 2014-10 , Vol. 88 , P. 24-33
DOI 10.1016/j.csr.2014.07.004
WOS© Times Cited 19
Keyword(s) Bay of Biscay, Aquitaine Shelf, Parentis Basin, Fluid, Seepage, Acoustics
Abstract Fishery acoustic surveys conducted in the Bay of Biscay and dedicated to monitoring and predicting pelagic ecosystem evolution reveal numerous active seeps on the Aquitaine Shelf, east of the shelf break, at water depths ranging from 140 to 185 m. Some acoustic anomalies recorded in the water column with hull-mounted single and multibeam echosounders are clearly caused by fluid escape at the seabed, most likely gases. These fluid emissions are associated at the seafloor with high backscatter subcircular small-scale mounds, on average less than 2 m high and a few metres in diameter. Based on near-bottom video and acoustic surveys, these mounds are interpreted to be by-products of gas seepage, possibly methane-derived authigenic carbonates. The spatial distribution of the seeps and related structures, based on water column acoustic gas flares and high backscatter seabed patches, appears to be relatively broad, with a North–South extension of ~65 km across the Parentis Basin and the Landes High, and a West–East extension along a few kilometres wide on the shelf. The seepage activity seems persistent through time at the annual scale, with acoustic evidence dating back to 1998. The spatial distribution of the fluid emissions at the Aquitaine Shelf may suggest possible sedimentary and tectonic controls in relation with the Pyrenean compression phase. The nature and the origin of the emitted fluids and seafloor mounds are unknown. The gases may correspond to biogenic methane from Late Pleistocene deposits or to thermogenic gases originating from deeper, Jurassic–Cretaceous levels. The oil province of the Parentis Basin raises questions regarding possible genetic links to the petroleum system.
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