Evolution model for the Absheron Mud Volcano: from stratified sediments to fluid mud generation

Type Article
Date 2020-12
Language English
Author(s) Blouin Arthur1, 2, 3, Sultan NabilORCID1, Pierron Alexandra1, Imbert Patrice3, Callot Jean‐paul3
Affiliation(s) 1 : Ifremer, Lab. Aléas Géologiques et Dynamiques Sédimentaires, REM, Centre de Bretagne Géosciences MarinesPointe du Diable 29280 Plouzané, france
2 : R&D/EP Total S.A Avenue Larribau 64000 Pau, France
3 : Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour E2S UPPACNRS, TOTAL, Avenue de l'Université 64013 Pau cedexFrance, france
Source Journal Of Geophysical Research-earth Surface (2169-9003) (American Geophysical Union (AGU)), 2020-12 , Vol. 125 , N. 12 , P. e2020JF005623 (27p.)
DOI 10.1029/2020JF005623
Keyword(s) mud volcano, numerical modeling, geohazard, sediment remobilization, methane

Submarine mud volcanoes are one of the most spectacular methane expulsion features at the seafloor and they represent a significant geohazard worldwide. In this work we focus on the physical processes controlling the initiation and early evolution of the Absheron mud volcano (AMV). Our analyses were carried out based on basin modeling calibrated thanks to existing seismic interpretation of the AMV, analysis of sediment samples from seabed, and data from two exploration wells. Acquired laboratory geotechnical data allowed us to derive laws considering the impact of gas exsolution on host sediment behaviors.

In this study, we identified key geological and physical conditions that led to mud volcano formation: by coupling diffusion processes with hydrofracturing and fluid advection, we were able to simulate the conditions required to generate mud 3.5 km below the AMV. Mud remobilization up to the seabed was reproduced by using Navier‐Stokes equations modified to account for the impact of gas expansion on mud density. Considering density inversion only, simulations indicate that mud would be extruded at the seabed 100 years after its generation, an ascent rate similar to extrusion rates measured at the active Kotyrdag mud volcano in Azerbaijan.

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Plain Language Summary

Mud volcanoes build‐up at the Earth surface from liquidized sediments remobilized from depths reaching several kilometers. They are distributed globally, onshore and offshore, in different geological backgrounds and represent serious geohazards for people and infrastructures. Moreover, they are also among the most spectacular methane expulsion features at the surface, participating to the global budget of green‐house gases emissions. Their understanding is thus paramount to prevent natural catastrophes such as Lusi eruption in Indonesia in 2006 and to quantify the human impact on global warming. If mud volcanoes are known for centuries (Pline the Elder) and studied for decades, little is known about the processes controlling mud generation from stiff deep sediments and its vertical migration towards the surface. The methane is often considered as being a driving element in this geological process and bubble formation in compacted sediments during laboratory testing led to strong damage of sediment properties.

Here we develop two independent numerical models, based on simple physical processes and relying on in‐situ observations of the Absheron Mud Volcano (South Caspian Basin) and laboratory testing. They allow to simulate mud generation at depth and its remobilization to the surface. Our research work provides reliable information to describe the initiation and early evolution of an active mud volcano.

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How to cite 

Blouin Arthur, Sultan Nabil, Pierron Alexandra, Imbert Patrice, Callot Jean‐paul (2020). Evolution model for the Absheron Mud Volcano: from stratified sediments to fluid mud generation. Journal Of Geophysical Research-earth Surface, 125(12), e2020JF005623 (27p.). Publisher's official version : https://doi.org/10.1029/2020JF005623 , Open Access version : https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00658/77002/