A marine electromagnetic survey to detect gas hydrate at Hydrate Ridge, Oregon

Weitemeyer, KA, Constable S, Trehu AM.  2011.  A marine electromagnetic survey to detect gas hydrate at Hydrate Ridge, Oregon. Geophysical Journal International. 187:45-62.

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Continental margins: convergent, continental-margin, csem data, electrical-properties, Gas and hydrate systems, gulf-of-mexico, Magnetotelluric, Marine electromagnetics, methane hydrate, sea-floor, slope, stability, storegga slide, zone


Gas hydrates are a potential energy resource and hazard for drilling and infrastructure, yet estimates of global volume vary by over three orders of magnitude. Hydrates are electrically resistive compared to water saturated sediment and so electromagnetic methods provide an additional tool to seismic surveys and drilling for determining hydrate saturations. A marine electromagnetic survey was carried out at Hydrate Ridge, Oregon, USA, with the aim of testing the use of controlled source electromagnetic (CSEM) and magnetotelluric (MT) methods to map gas hydrate and free gas below the gas hydrate stability zone. A 2-D CSEM inversion supports the scenario deduced from previous seismic and drilling results, which indicate two mechanisms of hydrate emplacement: a transport-dominated and reaction-dominated regime. A prominent resistive region of 2.5-4 Omega m at a depth of about 130 mbsf, near the seismic bottom simulating reflector (BSR), suggests that 27 to 46 per cent of the bulk volume is filled with hydrate, depending on whether Archie's Law or the Hashin-Strikman bounds are used. This is representative of a reaction-dominated regime for hydrate emplacement, and where a significant low velocity zone exists based on a seismic tomography inversion, suggests large quantities of free gas below the BSR. Electrical resistivity logging while drilling (LWD) data show general agreement with the CSEM inversion model except for a CSEM-derived resistive region at seismic horizon A, known to transport free gas into the gas hydrate stability zone. Inversion of MT data collected simultaneously during the CSEM survey provides a complimentary low-resolution image of the shallow sediments and shows folding in the accretionary complex sediments similar to that imaged by a tomographic seismic velocity model.