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Understanding Gas Hydrates in the Marine Sediments: Dynamics of
  Fluid/Gas Flux: Brandon Dugan


Project Title: Understanding Gas Hydrates in the Marine Sediments: Dynamics of Fluid/Gas Flux
Mendenhall Fellow: Brandon Dugan, (508) 457-2218, bdugan@usgs.gov
Duty Station: Woods Hole, Massachusetts
Start Date: April 21, 2003
Education: Ph.D., Geosciences, Penn State University (2003)
Research Advisor: Deborah Hutchinson, (508) 457-2263, dhutchinson@usgs.gov

Project Description: The distribution and concentration of gas hydrate and free gas beneath hydrate are important to understand as components of the global carbon cycle, as potential energy reserves, and as geologic hazards. Hydrate distribution is often inferred from geophysical data and, in some locations, core samples and vents verify the presence of hydrate and associated gas. The bottom simulating reflection (BSR), the most common geophysical indicator of hydrate, identifies the interface between hydrate and free gas. In some regions, such as they Gulf of Mexico, hydrate is present but geophysical indicators are not prominent. The dynamic and transient nature of the hydrate systems influence the ability to image and characterize them. To understand the system, we must understand how it evolves within the context of regional and local stratigraphy, pressure, fluid flow, and temperature regimes.

The goals of this project are to characterize and describe gas hydrates in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM). The GoM has a highly dynamic petroleum system with abundant gas venting along the continental shelf and slope. Geophysical data and sediment samples are analyzed to define stratigraphy and lithology. Laboratory experiments constrain physical properties (e.g., permeability, bulk modulus, shear strength) of sediment with and without hydrate. Theoretical models to simulate the evolution of the observed basin and hydrate conditions and to understand the fate of the in situ hydrate are being developed. The research will provide: (1) estimates of gas flux through hydrate systems; (2) bounds on gas stored in hydrate systems; (3) constraints on the conditions that drive hydrate formation or dissociation; and (4) predictions on the potential for hydrate-related slope failures. The study will be integrated with a joint industry project to drill and monitor hydrates (spring 2004) in the GoM. This drilling effort will provide data to ground-truth the geophysical interpretations and theoretical models.

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Last modified: 16:08:27 Thu 13 Dec 2012