Journal Article

Seismic investigation of a bottom simulating reflector and quantification of gas hydrate in the Black Sea

M. Zillmer, E. R. Flueh and J. Petersen

in Geophysical Journal International

Volume 161, issue 3, pages 662-678
Published in print June 2005 | ISSN: 0956-540X
Published online June 2005 | e-ISSN: 1365-246X | DOI:
Seismic investigation of a bottom simulating reflector and quantification of gas hydrate in the Black Sea

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A bottom simulating reflector (BSR), which marks the base of the gas hydrate stability zone, has been detected for the first time in seismic data of the Black Sea. The survey area is in the northwestern Black Sea at 44°–45°N and 31.5°–32.5°E. In this paper, seismic wide-angle ocean bottom hydrophone (OBH) and ocean bottom seismometer (OBS) data are investigated with the goal to quantify the gas hydrate and free gas saturation in the sediment. An image of the subsurface is computed from wide-angle data by using Kirchhoff depth migration. The image shows the BSR at 205–270 m depth below the seafloor and six to eight discrete layer boundaries between the seafloor and the BSR. The top of the hydrate layer and the bottom of the gas layer cannot be identified by seismic reflection signals. An analysis of traveltimes and reflection amplitudes leads to 1-D P-wave velocity–depth and density–depth models. An average S-wave velocity of 160 m s−1 between the seafloor and the BSR is determined from the traveltime of the P to S converted wave. The normal incidence PP reflection coefficient at the BSR is −0.11, where the P-wave velocity decreases from 1840 to 1475 m s−1. Velocities and density are used to compute the porosity and the system bulk modulus as a function of depth. The Gassmann equation for porous media is used to derive explicit formulae for the gas hydrate and free gas saturation, which depend on porosity and on the bulk moduli of the dry and saturated sediment. A gas hydrate saturation–depth profile is obtained, which shows that there is 38 ± 10 per cent hydrate in the pore space at the BSR depth, where the porosity is 57 per cent (OBS 24). This value is derived for the case that the gas hydrate does not cement the sediment grains, a model that is supported by the low S-wave velocities. There is 0.9 or 0.1 per cent free gas in the sediment below the BSR, depending on the model for the gas distribution in the sediment. The free gas layer may be more than 100 m thick as a result of a zone of enhanced reflectivity, which can be identified in the subsurface image.

Keywords: amplitude analysis; Black Sea; bottom simulating reflector; gas hydrate; porous media; wide-angle reflection seismics

Journal Article.  9589 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Geophysics

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