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Title: Controls on methane expulsion during melting of natural gas hydrate systems. Topic area 2

1.1. Project Goal The project goal is to predict, given characteristic climate-induced temperature change scenarios, the conditions under which gas will be expelled from existing accumulations of gas hydrate into the shallow ocean or directly to the atmosphere. When those conditions are met, the fraction of the gas accumulation that escapes and the rate of escape shall be quantified. The predictions shall be applicable in Arctic regions and in gas hydrate systems at the up dip limit of the stability zone on continental margins. The behavior shall be explored in response to two warming scenarios: longer term change due to sea level rise (e.g. 20 thousand years) and shorter term due to atmospheric warming by anthropogenic forcing (decadal time scale). 1.2. Project Objectives During the first budget period, the objectives are to review and categorize the stability state of existing well-studied hydrate reservoirs, develop conceptual and numerical models of the melting process, and to design and conduct laboratory experiments that dissociate methane hydrate in a model sediment column by systematically controlling the temperature profile along the column. The final objective of the first budget period shall be to validate the models against the experiments. In the second budget period, themore » objectives are to develop a model of gas flow into sediment in which hydrate is thermodynamically stable, and conduct laboratory experiments of this process to validate the model. The developed models shall be used to quantify the rate and volume of gas that escapes from dissociating hydrate accumulations. In addition, specific scaled simulations characteristic of Arctic regions and regions near the stability limit at continental margins shall be performed. 1.3. Project Background and Rationale The central hypothesis proposed is that hydrate melting (dissociation) due to climate change generates free gas that can, under certain conditions, propagate through the gas hydrate stability zone and vent at the seafloor. Gas venting through the regional hydrate stability zone is accomplished by alteration of the regional equilibrium conditions (creation of three phase conditions) by increased salinity and heat due to hydrate formation, due to gas fracturing, or a combination of both. This research will explore the controls on whether methane reaches the seafloor (or atmosphere) as the original hydrate deposit dissociates and what the magnitude of these fluxes are. This hypothesis has significant implications for the forcings and feedbacks associated with climate change. It is described below the observations and models that have led to formulating this hypothesis.« less
  1. Univ. of Texas, Austin, TX (United States)
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Technical Report
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Univ. of Texas, Austin, TX (United States)
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United States