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Geo-Marine Letters

, Volume 32, Issue 5–6, pp 555–562 | Cite as

Microstructure characteristics during hydrate formation and dissociation revealed by X-ray tomographic microscopy

  • Stephan A. KlappEmail author
  • Frieder Enzmann
  • Peter Walz
  • Thomas Huthwelker
  • Jürgen Tuckermann
  • J.-Oliver Schwarz
  • Thomas Pape
  • Edward T. Peltzer
  • Rajmund Mokso
  • David Wangner
  • Federica Marone
  • Michael Kersten
  • Gerhard Bohrmann
  • Werner F. Kuhs
  • Marco Stampanoni
  • Peter G. Brewer
Original

Abstract

Despite much progress over the past years in fundamental gas hydrate research, frontiers to the unknown are the early beginning and early decomposition of gas hydrates in their natural, submarine environment: gas bubbles meeting ocean water and forming hydrate, and gas starting to escape from the surface of a hydrate grain. In this paper we report on both of these topics, and present three-dimensional microstructure results obtained by synchrotron radiation X-ray cryo-tomographic microscopy (SRXCTM). Hydrates can precipitate when hydrate-forming molecules such as methane exceed solubility, and combine with water within the gas hydrate stability zone. Here we show hydrate formation on surfaces of bubbles from different gas mixtures and seawater, based on underwater robotic in situ experiments in the deep Monterey Canyon, offshore California. Hydrate begins to form from the surrounding water on the bubble surfaces, and subsequently grows inward into the bubble, evidenced by distinct edges. Over time, the bubbles become smaller while gas is being incorporated into newly formed hydrate. In contrast, current understanding has been that hydrate decomposition starts on the outer surface of hydrate aggregates and grains. It is shown that in an early stage of decomposition, newly found tube structures connect well-preserved gas hydrate patches to areas that are dissociating, demonstrating how dissociating areas in a hydrate grain are linked through hydrate that is still intact and will likely decompose at a later stage.

Figure

The boundaries of a gas hydrate grain: excepting for the matrix (transparent, not shown), one can see tubular structures, pores from decomposition, and bubbles.

Keywords

Hydrate Crystal Bubble Surface Remotely Operate Vehicle Hydrate Skin Hydrate Dissociation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgements

We greatly acknowledge the captains and crews of the RVs Meteor (M72/3) and Point Lobos as well as the team of the ROV Ventana. The tomography experiments were performed with the TOMCAT beamline of the Swiss Light Source, Paul Scherrer Institute, Villigen, Switzerland. We also thank the TOMCAT scientists and technicians for their support. We are grateful to Veerle Cnudde and Gregor Rehder for valuable comments that improved the manuscript, as well as the guest editors Marc De Batist and Oleg Khlystov.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephan A. Klapp
    • 1
    • 2
    • 7
    Email author
  • Frieder Enzmann
    • 3
  • Peter Walz
    • 2
  • Thomas Huthwelker
    • 4
  • Jürgen Tuckermann
    • 3
  • J.-Oliver Schwarz
    • 3
  • Thomas Pape
    • 1
  • Edward T. Peltzer
    • 2
  • Rajmund Mokso
    • 4
  • David Wangner
    • 1
  • Federica Marone
    • 4
  • Michael Kersten
    • 3
  • Gerhard Bohrmann
    • 1
  • Werner F. Kuhs
    • 5
  • Marco Stampanoni
    • 4
    • 6
  • Peter G. Brewer
    • 2
  1. 1.MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences and Department of GeosciencesUniversity of BremenBremenGermany
  2. 2.Monterey Bay Aquarium Research InstituteMoss LandingUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeosciencesJohannes-Gutenberg-University of MainzGutenbergGermany
  4. 4.Swiss Light SourcePaul Scherrer InstituteVilligenSwitzerland
  5. 5.GZG, Abt. KristallographieUniversität GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  6. 6.Institute of Biomedical EngineeringUniversity and ETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  7. 7.Shell Global Solutions International B.V.RijswijkThe Netherlands

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