SASSEN, R., S. T. SWEET, D. A. DEFREITAS, A. V. MILKOV, Geochemical and Environmental Research Group, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX; G. SALATA, Department of Oceanography, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX; and E. W. McDADE, Texaco, USA, New Orleans, LA
Abstract: Geology and Geochemistry of Gas Hydrates, Central Gulf of Mexico Continental Slope
The Gulf slope is unique in that larger volumes of gas hydrate are concentrated in smaller volumes of sediment nearer the sea floor than in any other known basinal setting. Gas hydrates are ice-like crystalline solids (minerals) in which hydrocarbon and nonhydrocarbon gases are held within rigid cages of water molecules. All thermogenic gas hydrate occurrences in the central slope are linked to vertical migration of oil and gas from deep Upper Jurassic (Tithonian) source rock facies. Migration focuses thermogenic gas hydrate at the edges of actively charged saltwithdrawal mini-basins, over salt ridges, and near the Sigsbee Escarpment. Bacterial methane hydrate also occurs, and is differentiated from thermogenic gas hydrate by molecular and isotopic properties. Isotopic fractionation of hydrocarbons does not occur during gas hydrate crystallization from vent gas. In geophysical context, the detailed isotopic properties of individual hydrocarbons from gas hydrate samples could provide insight to subsurface accumulations of either thermogenic hydrocarbons or bacterial methane. At high pressures and low temperatures of the deep sea floor, rapid crystallization of gas hydrate creates sea-floor mounds and tabular vein-fillings at vent sites, deforming hemipelagic sediments. Gas hydrate exists in a relatively unstable environment at the sea floor, and hydrate decomposition further contributes to sediment instability. The Gulf slope is atypically prone to gas hydrate hazards.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90924©1999 GCAGS Annual Meeting Lafayette, Louisiana