Sulfate profiles and barium fronts in sediment on the Blake Ridge: present and past methane fluxes through a large gas hydrate reservoir

Dickens, Gerald R. (2001) Sulfate profiles and barium fronts in sediment on the Blake Ridge: present and past methane fluxes through a large gas hydrate reservoir. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 65 (4). pp. 529-543.

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Abstract

Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Sites 994, 995, and 997 were drilled into a large gas hydrate deposit on the crest of the Blake Ridge (southeast U.S. margin) where upward CH4 fluxes (FOut) are related to depths of pore water SO42− depletion. High-resolution pore water SO42− and sediment Ba profiles have been constructed at these sites to assess present and past FOut. Pore water SO42− profiles are linear with zero SO42− concentration occurring at 21.4, 21.6, and 22.8 mbsf at holes 994A, 995A and 997A, respectively. Using steady state solutions to diffusion equations with appropriate parameters, the steep SO42− gradients support upward CH4 fluxes between 7.2 and 8.6 mol/m2 · ky at present-day, with the range primarily reflecting different approaches for incorporating porosity (φ). Taking into account the generally decreasing φ with depth and the high clay content of the sediment, the best estimates for FOut are 7.9, 7.6 and 7.2 mol CH4/m2 · ky at sites 994, 995 and 997, respectively. However, non-steady state solutions to diffusion equations show that the SO42− gradients do not imply steady state conditions. Elevated Ba concentrations (530–1410 ppm) exist in sediment between 18.23 and 20.65, between 17.31 and 20.31, between 19.40 and 21.80, and between 19.58 and 21.91 mbsf at holes 994A, 994C, 995A, and 997A, respectively. These Ba fronts coincide with highs in bulk sediment Ba/Al (to 2.5 × 10−2) and are caused by Ba cycling just above time averaged depths of SO42− depletion. Because the Ba fronts lie immediately above the present-day depths of pore water SO42− depletion, and because no other Ba fronts are found in the upper 25 m at the three sites, the depth of SO42− depletion beneath the seafloor has been nearly constant for considerable time (>18,000 years). Thus, CH4 fluxes can be determined through SO42− gradients and steady state solutions to diffusion equations. More importantly, FOut through the crest of the Blake Ridge has not varied significantly across major changes in sea level and hydrostatic pressure.

Item ID: 13212
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
ISSN: 1872-9533
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2010 23:17
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0402 Geochemistry > 040202 Inorganic Geochemistry @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970104 Expanding Knowledge in the Earth Sciences @ 100%
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