Natural and anthropogenic fluid migration pathways in marine sediments.

Böttner, Christoph (2020) Natural and anthropogenic fluid migration pathways in marine sediments. (PhD/ Doctoral thesis), Christian-Albrechts-Universität, Kiel, Germany, 198 pp.

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Fluids are an important agent in nearly all geologic processes that shape the planet Earth. Fluid abundance and composition are governed by flow along permeable beds or natural and anthropogenic structures in the subsurface including faults, wells, and chimneys/pipes. Spatial and temporal variations in fluid flow activity modify total fluxes between geosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere. These fluxes have broad implications for geological processes including the formation of natural resources or the occurrence of geohazards including landslides, earthquakes and blowouts. They further play a crucial role for the global carbon cycles and the climate system. A qualitative and quantitative understanding of fluid flow in the subsurface is therefore important to assess the role of fluids in the Earth system and to quantify fluxes from the geosphere into the hydro- and atmosphere. In this Ph.D. thesis I use an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to study natural and anthropogenic fluid migration pathways in marine sediments in the North Sea, the convergent Hikurangi margin, and a section of the ancient Tethys margin which is now exposed near Varna, Bulgaria. The applied methods include conventional 3D seismic, high-resolution 3D seismic, and 2D seismic data as well as hydroacoustic, sedimentological, unmanned aerial vehicle-based photogrammetric and geochemical data. In each of the studied systems, natural and/or anthropogenic fluid migration pathways allow the transport of significant amounts of fluids through marine sediments towards the seafloor. Often the co-existence of multiple pathways enables the fluids to bypass permeability barriers within the Earth’s crust resulting in the formation of structurally complex flow systems. Focused fluid flow along normal faults in the Hikurangi margin likely plays an active role in the subduction drainage system, influences the slope stability and the morphotectonic evolution of the margin. Results from the Eocene Tethys margin show that focused fluid flow in marine sediments is possible in unconsolidated sands if seepage is focused at the top of faulted units and the flux rate is high enough. This stands in contrast to the general assumption that focused fluid flow in marine sediments is limited to low-permeable sediments. In the marine environment the term fluid flow is often used to exclusively refer to the flow of hydrocarbons. However, geochemical data from the North Sea and the Tethys margin indicate that the involved fluids are of different origin including compaction-related dehydration and submarine groundwater discharge. In each of the investigated cases, the temporal and spatial evolution of fluid flow is not fully addressed yet, especially with regard to vertical fluid conduits or the safety of subsurface drilling and storage operations. The results of my thesis highlight that the investigation of fluid migration pathways requires an interdisciplinary approach which may indicate the origin of the fluids, help understand the fluxes of fluids from the geosphere into the hydrosphere and atmosphere of the past, present and future and reveal the resulting consequences for the global carbon cycles and the climate system.

Document Type: Thesis (PhD/ Doctoral thesis)
Thesis Advisor: Berndt, Christian and Bohrmann, Gerhard
Keywords: Geology; Geophysics; Marine geophysics; CCS; STEMM-CCS; 3D seismic data; reflection seismic data; hydroacoustic data; UAV; pockmarks; methane; North Sea; compaction; Greenhouse gas emissions; Marine forearc extension; Hikurangi margin; Free gas; subaqueous landslide; Tuaheni; New Zealand; Pipe formation; MDAC; offfshore groundwater seepage; onshore outcrops; Tethys margin; Eocene; methane seep; Varna; Bulgaria; GEOMAR
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB4 Dynamics of the Ocean Floor > FB4-GDY Marine Geodynamics
Projects: STEMM-CCS
Date Deposited: 05 May 2020 13:13
Last Modified: 05 May 2020 13:13

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