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Anomalous seafloor backscatter patterns in methane venting areas, Dnepr paleo-delta, NW Black Sea
Naudts, L.; Greinert , J.; Artemov, Y.; Beaubien, S.E.; Borowski, C.; De Batist, M. (2010). Anomalous seafloor backscatter patterns in methane venting areas, Dnepr paleo-delta, NW Black Sea, in: Naudts, L. Manifestations and geological characteristics of bubble-releasing methane seeps in the Black Sea, in the SW Pacific Ocean and in Lake Baikal. pp. 93-116
In: Naudts, L. (2010). Manifestations and geological characteristics of bubble-releasing methane seeps in the Black Sea, in the SW Pacific Ocean and in Lake Baikal. PhD Thesis. Ghent University, Department of Geology and Soil Science: Gent. 195 pp., more

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Keyword
    Marine
Author keywords
    Methane seeps; acoustic seafloor backscatter; anaerobic oxidation of methane; bacterial mats; pockmarks; methane-derived authigenic carbonates

Authors  Top 
  • Naudts, L., more
  • Greinert , J., more
  • Artemov, Y.
  • Beaubien, S.E.
  • Borowski, C.
  • De Batist, M., more

Abstract
    The relation between acoustic seafloor backscatter and seep distribution is examined by integrating multibeam backscatter data and seep locations detected by single-beam echosounder. This study is further supported by side scan sonar recordings, high-resolution 5 kHz seismic data, pore-water analysis, grain-size analysis and visual seafloor observations. The datasets were acquired during the 2003 and 2004 expeditions of the EC-funded CRIMEA project in the Dnepr paleo-delta area, northwestern Black Sea. More than 600 active methane seeps were hydro-acoustically detected within a small (3.96 km by 3.72 km) area on the continental shelf of the Dnepr paleo-delta in water depths ranging from -72 m to -156 m. Multibeam and side scan sonar recordings show backscatter patterns that are clearly associated with seepage or with a present dune area. Seeps generally occur within medium- to high backscatter areas which often coincide with pockmarks. High-resolution seismic data reveal the presence of an undulating gas front, i.e. the top of the free gas in the subsurface, which domes up towards and intersects the seafloor at locations where gas seeps and medium- to high-backscatter values are detected. Pore-water analysis of 4 multi-cores, taken at different backscatter intensity sites, shows a clear correlation between backscatter intensity and dissolved methane fluxes. All analyzed chemical species indicate increasing anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) from medium- to high-backscatter locations. This is confirmed by visual seafloor observations, showing bacterial mats and authigenic carbonates formed by AOM. Grain-size analysis of the 4 multi-cores only reveals negligible variations between the different backscatter sites. Integration of all datasets leads to the conclusion that the observed backscatter patterns are the result of ongoing methane seepage and the precipitation of methane-derived authigenic carbonates (MDACs) caused by AOM. The carbonate formation also appears to lead to a gradual (self-)sealing of the seeps by cementing fluid pathways/horizons followed by a relocation of the bubble-releasing locations.

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