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Title: Hydrate Evolution in Response to Ongoing Environmental Shifts

Natural gas hydrates have the potential to become a vital domestic clean-burning energy source. However, past changes in environmental conditions have caused hydrates to become unstable and trigger both massive submarine landslides and the development of crater-like pockmarks, thereby releasing methane into the overlying seawater and atmosphere, where it acts as a powerful greenhouse gas. This project was designed to fill critical gaps in our understanding of domestic hydrate resources and improve forecasts for their response to environmental shifts. Project work can be separated into three interrelated components, each involving the development of predictive mathematical models. The first project component concerns the role of sediment properties on the development and dissociation of concentrated hydrate anomalies. To this end, we developed numerical models to predict equilibrium solubility of methane in twophase equilibrium with hydrate as a function of measureable porous medium characteristics. The second project component concerned the evolution of hydrate distribution in heterogeneous reservoirs. To this end, we developed numerical models to predict the growth and decay of anomalies in representative physical environments. The third project component concerned the stability of hydrate-bearing slopes under changing environmental conditions. To this end, we developed numerical treatments of pore pressure evolution and consolidation,more » then used "infinite-slope" analysis to approximate the landslide potential in representative physical environments, and developed a "rate-and-state" frictional formulation to assess the stability of finite slip patches that are hypothesized to develop in response to the dissociation of hydrate anomalies. The increased predictive capabilities that result from this work provide a framework for interpreting field observations of hydrate anomalies in terms of the history of environmental forcing that led to their development. Moreover, by taking explicit account of anomaly dissociation, project results are designed to help improve forecasts for changes in slope stability that could pose significant threats to energy infrastructure, disrupt hydrate reserves, and pollute the atmosphere with vast quantities of methane. This report presents the details of our work and outlines some of the highlights from our findings.« less
  1. Univ. of Oregon, Eugene, OR (United States)
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Technical Report
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Univ. of Oregon, Eugene, OR (United States)
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United States