Seismic imaging of gas conduits beneath seafloor seep sites in a shallow marine gas hydrate province, Hikurangi Margin, New Zealand

Gareth J. Crutchley, Ingo A. Pecher, Andrew R. Gorman, Stuart A. Henrys, Jens Greinert

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    88 Citations (Scopus)


    We present recently-acquired high-resolution seismic data and older lower-resolution seismic data from Rock Garden, a shallow marine gas hydrate province on New Zealand's Hikurangi Margin. The seismic data reveal plumbing systems that supply gas to three general sites where seeps have been observed on the Rock Garden seafloor: the 'LM3' sites (including LM3 and LM3-A), the 'Weka' sites (including Weka-A, Weka-B, and Weka-C), and the 'Faure' sites (including Faure-A, Faure-B, and Rock Garden Knoll). At the LM3 sites, seismic data reveal gas migration from beneath the bottom simulating reflection (BSR), through the gas hydrate stability zone (GHSZ), to two separate seafloor seeps (LM3 and LM3-A). Gas migration through the deeper parts of GHSZ below the LM3 seeps appears to be influenced by faulting in the hanging wall of a major thrust fault. Closer to the seafloor, the dominant migration pathways appear to occupy vertical chimneys. At the Weka sites, on the central part of the ridge, seismic data reveal a very shallow BSR. A distinct convergence of the BSR with the seafloor is observed at the exit point of one of the Weka seep locations (Weka-A). Gas supply to this seep is predicted to be focused along the underside of a permeability contrast at the BGHS caused by overlying gas hydrates. The Faure sites are associated with a prominent arcuate slump feature. At Faure-A, high-amplitude reflections, extending from a shallow BSR towards the seafloor, are interpreted as preferred gas migration pathways that exploit relatively-high-permeability sedimentary layers. At Faure-B, we interpret gas migration to be channelled to the seep along the underside of the BGHS - the same scenario interpreted for the Weka-A site. At Rock Garden Knoll, gas occupies shallow sediments within the GHSZ, and is interpreted to migrate up-dip along relatively high-permeability layers to the area of seafloor seepage. We predict that faulting, in response to uplift and flexural extension of the ridge, may be an important mechanism in creating fluid flow conduits that link the reservoir of free gas beneath the BGHS with the shallow accumulations of gas imaged beneath Rock Garden Knoll. From a more regional perspective, much of the gas beneath Rock Garden is focused along a northwest-dipping fabric, probably associated with subduction-related deformation of the margin. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)114-126
    Number of pages13
    JournalMarine Geology
    Issue number1-4
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2010


    • gas hydrate
    • gas migration
    • gas seep
    • marine seismic reflection


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