Fault zone controlled seafloor methane seepage in the rupture area of the 2010 Maule Earthquake, Central Chile.

Geersen, Jacob , Scholz, Florian, Linke, Peter , Schmidt, Mark , Lange, Dietrich , Behrmann, Jan H. , Völker, David and Hensen, Christian (2016) Fault zone controlled seafloor methane seepage in the rupture area of the 2010 Maule Earthquake, Central Chile. Open Access Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 17 (11). pp. 4802-4813. DOI 10.1002/2016GC006498.

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Abstract

Seafloor seepage of hydrocarbon-bearing fluids has been identified in a number of marine forearcs. However, temporal variations in seep activity and the structural and tectonic parameters that control the seepage often remain poorly constrained. Subduction-zone earthquakes for example, are often discussed to trigger seafloor seepage but causal links that go beyond theoretical considerations have not yet been fully established. This is mainly due to the inaccessibility of offshore epicentral areas, the infrequent occurrence of large earthquakes, and challenges associated with offshore monitoring of seepage over large areas and sufficient time periods. Here, we report visual, geochemical, geophysical, and modelling results and observations from the Concepción Methane Seep Area (offshore Central Chile) located in the rupture area of the 2010 Mw. 8.8 Maule earthquake. High methane concentrations in the oceanic water column and a shallow sub-bottom depth of sulfate penetration indicate active methane seepage. The stable carbon isotope signature of the methane and hydrocarbon composition of the released gas indicate a mixture of shallow-sourced biogenic gas and a deeper sourced thermogenic component. Pristine fissures and fractures observed at the seafloor together with seismically imaged large faults in the marine forearc may represent effective pathways for methane migration. Upper-plate fault activity with hydraulic fracturing and dilation is in line with increased normal Coulomb stress during large plate-boundary earthquakes, as exemplarily modelled for the 2010 earthquake. On a global perspective our results point out the possible role of recurring large subduction-zone earthquakes in driving hydrocarbon seepage from marine forearcs over long timescales.

Document Type: Article
Funder compliance: info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/EC/FP7/300648
Keywords: Subduction zone, Maule earthquake, Fluid flow, Methane seepage, Central Chile, Active tectonics, ROV KIEL 6000
Research affiliation: OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence > FO-R07
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-MG Marine Geosystems
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence > FO-R08
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence > FO-R03
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence > FO-R06
OceanRep > SFB 574
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB4 Dynamics of the Ocean Floor > FB4-GDY Marine Geodynamics
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1002/2016GC006498
ISSN: 1525-2027
Projects: SFB574, Future Ocean, BICYCLE
Expeditions/Models/Experiments:
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2016 09:34
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2019 15:01
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/34342

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