Remote Sensing and Sea-Truth Measurements of Methane Flux to the Atmosphere (HYFLUX project)

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A multi-disciplinary investigation of distribution and magnitude of methane fluxes from seafloor gas hydrate deposits in the Gulf of Mexico was conducted based on results obtained from satellite synthetic aperture radar (SAR) remote sensing and from sampling conducted during a research expedition to three sites where gas hydrate occurs (MC118, GC600, and GC185). Samples of sediments, water, and air were collected from the ship and from an ROV submersible using sediments cores, niskin bottles attached to the ROV and to a rosette, and an automated sea-air interface collector. The SAR images were used to quantify the magnitude and distribution of ... continued below

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MacDonald, Ian May 31, 2011.

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A multi-disciplinary investigation of distribution and magnitude of methane fluxes from seafloor gas hydrate deposits in the Gulf of Mexico was conducted based on results obtained from satellite synthetic aperture radar (SAR) remote sensing and from sampling conducted during a research expedition to three sites where gas hydrate occurs (MC118, GC600, and GC185). Samples of sediments, water, and air were collected from the ship and from an ROV submersible using sediments cores, niskin bottles attached to the ROV and to a rosette, and an automated sea-air interface collector. The SAR images were used to quantify the magnitude and distribution of natural oil and gas seeps that produced perennial oil slicks on the ocean surface. A total of 176 SAR images were processed using a texture classifying neural network algorithm, which segmented the ocean surface into oil-free and oil-covered water. Geostatistical analysis indicates that there are a total of 1081 seep formations distributed over the entire Gulf of Mexico basin. Oil-covered water comprised an average of 780.0 sq. km (sd 86.03) distributed with an area of 147,370 sq. km. Persistent oil and gas seeps were also detected with SAR sampling on other ocean margins located in the Black Sea, western coast of Africa, and offshore Pakistan. Analysis of sediment cores from all three sites show profiles of sulfate, sulfide, calcium and alkalinity that indicated anaerobic oxidation of methane with precipitation of authigenic carbonates. Difference among the three sampling sites may reflect the relative magnitude of methane flux. Methane concentrations in water column samples collected by ROV and rosette deployments from MC118 ranged from {approx}33,000 nM at the seafloor to {approx}12 nM in the mixed layer with isolated peaks up to {approx}13,670 nM coincident with the top of the gas hydrate stability field. Average plume methane, ethane, and propane concentrations in the mixed layer are 7, 630, and 9,540 times saturation, respectively. Based on the contemporaneous wind speeds at this site, contemporary estimates of the diffusive fluxes from the mixed layer to the atmosphere for methane, ethane, and propane are 26.5, 2.10, and 2.78 {micro}mol/m{sup 2}d, respectively. Continuous measurements of air and sea surface concentrations of methane were made to obtain high spatial and temporal resolution of the diffusive net sea-to-air fluxes. The atmospheric methane fluctuated between 1.70 ppm and 2.40 ppm during the entire cruise except for high concentrations (up to 4.01 ppm) sampled during the end of the occupation of GC600 and the transit between GC600 and GC185. Results from interpolations within the survey areas show the daily methane fluxes to the atmosphere at the three sites range from 0.744 to 300 mol d-1. Considering that the majority of seeps in the GOM are deep (>500 m), elevated CH{sub 4} concentrations in near-surface waters resulting from bubble-mediated CH4 transport in the water column are expected to be widespread in the Gulf of Mexico.

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  • Report No.: None
  • Grant Number: NT0005638
  • DOI: 10.2172/1041004 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1041004
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc845940

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Creation Date

  • May 31, 2011

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • Dec. 28, 2017, 10:16 p.m.

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MacDonald, Ian. Remote Sensing and Sea-Truth Measurements of Methane Flux to the Atmosphere (HYFLUX project), report, May 31, 2011; Corpus Christi, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc845940/: accessed September 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.