Mound and vent structures associated with gas hydrates offshore Vancouver Island: analysis of single-channel and deep-towed multichannel seismic data




He, Tao

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The study focuses mainly on two gas hydrate-related targets, located on the Northern Cascadia Margin, offshore Vancouver Island: (1) a recently identified 70-80-m high carbonate mound, Cucumber Ridge, located ~3.5-km west of Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Site 889 and Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Site U1327, and (2) a large cold vent, Bullseye vent, which is up to ~500 m in diameter and was drilled by IODP at Site U1328. The objective of this thesis is to analyze seismic data that provide indicators of locally focused fluid flow and characteristics of the gas hydrate occurrence associated with these two features. A grid of closely-spaced single channel seismic (SCS) data was collected at Cucumber Ridge in July/August 2001, and deep-towed multichannel seismic (MCS) lines were collected using Deep-towed Acoustics and Geophysics System (DTAGS) at the Bullseye vent area and at Cucumber Ridge in October 2002. The high-resolution SCS data, with a frequency bandpass of 40-150 Hz, recorded coherent reflectivity down to about 400 m beneath the seafloor, and provide excellent images of the subseafloor structure of Cucumber Ridge and of the gas hydrate bottom-simulating reflector (BSR) beneath it. Cucumber Ridge is interpreted to have developed as a structural topographic high in the hanging wall of a large reverse fault formed at the base of the current seaward slope. The fault zone provides pathways for fluids including gas to migrate to the seafloor where diagenetic carbonate forms and cements the near-surface sediments. Over the seismic grid, heat flow was derived from the depth of the BSR. A simple 2-D analytical correction for theoretical heat flow variations due to topography is applied to the data. Across the mound, most of the variability in heat flow is explained by topographic effects, including a local 6 mW/m2 negative anomaly over the central mound and a large 20 mW/m2 positive anomaly over the mound steep side slope. However, just south of the mound, there is a 6-7 mW/m2 positive anomaly in a 2-km-long band that has predominantly flat seafloor. Most of this anomaly is probably unrelated to topographic effects, but rather likely due to warm upward fluid flow along faults or fracture zones. Towed ~300 m above seafloor, the high frequency (220-1k Hz) DTAGS signal can provide high vertical resolution images with increased lateral resolution. The major problems of DTAGS are significant nonlinear variations of the source depths and receivers locations. New routines were developed for optimal DTAGS data processing, mainly including (1) cable geometry estimation by node depths, direct arrivals and seasurface reflections using a Genetic Algorithm inversion method, (2) acoustic image stitching based on accurate relative-source positioning by crosscorrelation of redundant data between two adjacent shots, and (3) velocity inversion of wide-angle traveltimes using a nonlinear global grid search method. The final processed DTAGS images resolve multiple seismic blanking zones and fine details of subseafloor features in the slope sediments. At Bullseye vent, where a 35-m-thick near-surface massive hydrate layer was drilled at U1328, the DTAGS data resolved the upper part of layer as a dipping diffraction zone, likely corresponding to a fracture zone. The inverted velocity structure in upper 100 m sediments successfully revealed a 17-m-thick layer of high velocity (~1650 m/s) just below seafloor, probably related to carbonate presence. A local high velocity zone, with a positive velocity anomaly of ~40-80 m/s in the upper 50 m beneath seafloor, was observed over the ~100-m wide region between U1328 and the deepest part of a seafloor depression; the high velocity zone is consistent with the dipping diffraction zone in the DTAGS image and with the massive hydrate drilled at U1328.



seismology, marine gas hydrate, carbonate mound, cold vent, heat flow, Vancouver Island, deep-towed, inversion method