Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


NZ - German 3D survey: seabed gas hydrate and methane system

NZ - German 3D survey reveals massive seabed gas hydrate and methane system

A joint New Zealand-German research team has discovered a huge network of frozen methane and methane gas in sediments and in the ocean near New Zealand’s east coast. The 16-strong team is using state-of-the-art 3D and 2D seismic and echosounder technology to map both forms of methane within the ocean and beneath the seafloor.

The area off the North Island’s east coast is known to have very large active landslides, up to 15km long and 100m thick, and the team set out to discover what is causing them to move.

What they discovered was direct evidence of widespread gas in the sediment and ocean, and indications of large areas of methane hydrate, ice-like frozen methane, below the seafloor.

The team has identified 99 gas flares in a 50 km2 area, venting from the seabed in columns up to 250 m high. This is believed to be the densest concentration of seafloor gas vents known in New Zealand. 3D seismic data show that landslides and faults allow the gas built up in the sediment to be released into the ocean.

This discovery reveals a hydrate and gas field very different from others known in New Zealand.

“Previously all gas venting sites have been in deeper water and associated with large earthquake faults” say NIWA marine geologist and voyage leader Dr Joshu Mountjoy.

“What we have found is high density methane flares in very shallow water, as well as gas building up beneath a large landslide and being released along the landslide margins”.

In a recently submitted scientific paper the team proposed that these landslides might be the seafloor equivalent of glaciers, but with frozen methane instead of water ice, or alternatively that pressurized gas is causing them to progressively move downslope. The results from this expedition indicate that both of these are possibilities and provide data to carefully test these hypotheses.

The expedition took the opportunity to deploy the German research institute GEOMAR’s high resolution 3D seismic equipment known as the P-Cable from NIWA’s research vessel Tangaroa.

“This equipment is the best available for imaging fluid systems within the seafloor,” says co-leader Professor Sebastian Krastel of the University of Kiel. “The sediment, rocks and fluids we have mapped here are perfectly suited to this equipment, and the area mapped is one of the biggest ever mapped with the P-Cable seismic system.”

The work forms part of a larger project focused on understanding the dynamic interaction of gas hydrates and slow moving active landslides. Dubbed SCHLIP (Submarine Clathrate Hydrate Landslide Imaging Project), ongoing investigations in the project over the next decade will including drilling into the landslides themselves in 2016.

This first part of the project, SCHLIP-3D, is a collaboration between NIWA, GNS Science and the University of Auckland from New Zealand, GEOMAR and the University of Kiel from Germany, Oregon State University from the USA, and the University of Malta.

“The initial findings are very important” says Dr Mountjoy. “Methane is a very effective greenhouse gas and seabed methane release has the potential to dramatically alter the earth’s climate. As ocean temperatures change the methane hydrate system has the potential to become unstable.”

“In terms of natural hazards, the occurrence of very large slow landslides, rather than catastrophic ones, has major implications for the tsunami generating potential of landslides globally as slow landslides are unlikely to cause tsunami.”

“This type of slow moving submarine landslide is essentially unknown around the world, but it is very likely that they do occur widely and are an important process shaping continental margins”.

The team set off from Wellington on 14 April and finished the voyage on 8 May. The work is funded from New Zealand by MBIE and Germany by DFG.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Fonterra: Canpac Site 'Resize' To Focus More On Paediatrics

Fonterra is looking at realigning its packing operations at Canpac, in the Waikato, to focus more on paediatric nutritionals... The proposed changes could mean around 110 roles may not be required at the site which currently employs 330. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Postie Plus Brand Gets 2nd Chance With Well-Funded Pepkor

The Postie Plus brand is getting a new lease of life after South Africa’s Pepkor bought the failed retailer’s assets out of administration and said it will use its purchasing power to reduce costs of stock and fatten margins. More>>

ALSO:

Warming: Warming Signs From State Of Climate Report

Climate data from air, land, sea and ice in 2013 'reflect trends of a warming planet' -- says the latest State of the Climate report, launched by U.S. and New Zealand scientists. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Embrace Falling Home Affordability, Says NZIER

Despair over the inability to afford a house is misplaced and should be embraced as an opportunity to invest in more wealth-creating activity, says the principal economist at the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, Shamubeel Eaqub. More>>

Productivity Commission: NZ Regulation Not Keeping Pace

New Zealand regulators often have to work with out-of-date legislation, quality checks are under strain, and regulatory workers need better training and development. More>>

ALSO:

Callaghan Innovation: Investment To Help Deepen Innovation Reporting

Callaghan Innovation, the government’s high tech HQ for Kiwi business, is to help deepen New Zealand media coverage of the commercialisation of innovation through an arms-length partnership with independent business news service BusinessDesk. More>>

ALSO:

Tax Credits, Grants: Greens $1Bn R&D Plan

In the Party’s headline economic announcement, the Greens have launched their plan to build a smarter, more innovative economy which has as its centrepiece an additional $1 billion of government investment in research and development (R&D) above current spend, including tax breaks for business. More>>

ALSO:

Inflation: CPI Increases 0.3 Percent In June Quarter

The consumers price index (CPI) rose 0.3 percent in the June 2014 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today. This follows rises of 0.3 percent the March quarter and 0.1 percent in the December 2013 quarter. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Computer Power Plus

Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news