Geo-Marine Letters

, Volume 39, Issue 5, pp 377–390 | Cite as

Constraints on gas release from shallow lake sediments—a case study from the Sea of Galilee

  • Michael LazarEmail author
  • Luca Gasperini
  • Alina Polonia
  • Matteo Lupi
  • Adriano Mazzini


The presence of methane gas in the shallow sub-surface sediments of the Sea of Galilee, northern Israel, has been well documented over the years. Numerous theories for the mechanism responsible for the release of this gas into the water column have been put forth. These include changes in lake levels, seasonality, and seismic activity. The presence of gas in the sediments has been shown to cause acoustic blanking of the seismic signal. In effect, this means that areas of good seismic penetration are areas where gas is not present in the underlying sediment. In this study, 30 years of high-resolution seismic reflection data from the northwestern corner of the lake was examined. This database has allowed for the examination of changes in the spatial extent of gas in the area over time. Results show that the presence or absence of gas in the sediments does not adhere to one clear governing mechanism as previously assumed, but is rather a combination of factors that must be taken into account.



The authors wish to thank two anonymous reviewers for their in-depth comments and suggestions and Guy Lang, Naama Sarid, Yaron Be’eri-Shlevin, and Marion Alcanie for their extensive help in the field. This research could not have been carried out without the support of the Kinneret Authority, especially Hagai Levin, Yoni Dotan, and Yehuda Nitzani.

Supplementary material

367_2019_588_MOESM1_ESM.docx (17 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 16 kb)


  1. Albert DB, Martens CS, Alperin MJ (1998) Biogeochemical processes controlling methane in gassy coastal sediments—part 2: groundwater flow control of acoustic turbidity in Eckernförde Bay sediments. Cont Shelf Res 18:1771–1793Google Scholar
  2. Anderson AL, Hampton LD (1980) Acoustics of gas-bearing sediment. J Acoust Soc Am 67:1865–1903Google Scholar
  3. Ben-Avraham Z, Ginzburg A, Yuval Z (1981) Seismic reflection and refraction investigations of Lake Kinneret-central Jordan Valley, Israel. Tectonophysics 80:165–181Google Scholar
  4. Ben-Avraham Z, Shaliv G, Nur A (1986) Acoustic reflectivity and shallow sedimentary structure in the Sea of galilee, Jordan Valley. Mar Geol 70:175–189Google Scholar
  5. Ben-Avraham Z, ten Brink U, Bell R, Reznikov M (1996) Gravity field over the Sea of Galilee: evidence for a composite basin along a transform fault. J Geophys Res. 101:533–544Google Scholar
  6. Ben-Avraham Z, Garfunkel Z, Lazar M (2008) Geology and evolution of the southern dead sea fault with emphasis on subsurface structure. Annu Rev Earth Planet Sci. Google Scholar
  7. Boetius A, Ravenschlag K, Schubert CJ, Rickert D, Widdel F, Gieseke A, Amann R, Jørgensen BB, Witte U, Pfannkuche O (2000) A marine microbial consortium apparently mediating anaerobic oxidation of methane. Nature 407:623–626Google Scholar
  8. Cremiere A, Lepland A, Chand S, Sahy D, Condon DJ, Noble SR, Martma T, Thorsnes T, Sauer S, Brunstad H (2016) Timescales of methane seepage on the Norwegian margin following collapse of the Scandinavian Ice Sheet. Nat Commun 7:11509. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Elhanaty Y (2013) High resolution seismic characterization of shallow gas bearing sediments, North Western Sea of Galilee, Israel. M.Sc. Thesis, University of Haifa, Haifa IsraelGoogle Scholar
  10. Embriaco D, Marinaro G, Frugoni F, Monna S, Etiope G, Gasperini L, Polonia A, Del Bianco F, Çağatay MN, Ulgen UB, Favali P (2014) Monitoring of gas and seismic energy release by multi-parametric benthic observatory along the North Anatolian Fault in the Sea of Marmara (NW Turkey). Geophys J Int 196:850–866Google Scholar
  11. Ergün M, Dondurur D, Çifçi G (2002) Acoustic evidence for shallow gas accumulations in the sediments of the Eastern Black Sea. Terra Nova 14:313–320Google Scholar
  12. Furlanetto LM, Marinho CC, Palma-Silva C, Albertoni EF, Figueiredo-Barros MP, de Assis EF (2012) Methane levels in shallow subtropical lake sediments: dependence on the trophic status of the lake and allochthonous input. Limnologica 42:151–155Google Scholar
  13. Gasperini L, Polonia A, Del Bianco F, Etiope G, Marinaro G, Favali P (2012a) Gas seepage and seismogenic structures along the North Anatolian Fault in the eastern Sea of Marmara. Geochem Geophys Geosyst 13:Q10018. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gasperini L, Polonia A, Del Bianco F, Favali P, Marinaro G, Etiope G (2012b) Cold seeps, active faults and the earthquake cycle along the North Anatolian Fault system in the Sea of Marmara (NW Turkey). Boll Geofis Teor Appl 53:371–384Google Scholar
  15. Gasperini L, Polonia A, Çağatay MN (2018) Fluid flow, deformation rates and the submarine record of major earthquakes in the Sea of Marmara, along the North-Anatolian Fault system. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in OceanographyGoogle Scholar
  16. Goldstein T (2004) Lake floor craters in the northwestern part of Lake Kinneret – structure, evolution and relation to water flow. M.Sc. Thesis, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv IsraelGoogle Scholar
  17. Hamiel Y, Piatibratova O, Mizrahi Y (2016) Creep along the northern Jordan Valley section of the Dead Sea Fault. Geophys Res Lett 43:2494–2501Google Scholar
  18. Hart BS, Hamilton TS (1993) High resolution acoustic mapping of shallow gas in unconsolidated sediments beneath the strait of Georgia, British Columbia. Geo-Mar Lett 13:49–55Google Scholar
  19. Hazan N, Stein M, Agnon A, Marco S, Nadel D, Negendank JFW, Schwab MJ, Neev D (2005) The late Quaternary limnological history of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) Israel. Quat Res 63:60–77Google Scholar
  20. Hovland M, Judd AG, Burke RA Jr (1993) The global flux of methane from shallow submarine sediments. Chemosphere 26:559–578Google Scholar
  21. Hurwitz S, Garfunkel Z, Ben-Gai Y, Reznikov M, Rotstein Y, Gvirtzman H (2002) The tectonic framework of a complex pull-apart basin: seismic reflection observations in the Sea of Galilee, Dead Sea transform. Tectonophysics 359:289–306Google Scholar
  22. Inbar M (1976) Contemporary and Holocene denudation rates in the Lake Kinneret watershed. In: Amiran D, Ben-Arieh Y (eds) Geography in Israel: a collection of papers offered to the 23rd International Geographical Congress, USSR, July–August, Jerusalem, 1976. Israel National Committee, International Geographical Union, pp 344–352Google Scholar
  23. Judd AG (2003) The global importance and context of methane escape from the seabed. Geo-Mar Lett 23:147–154Google Scholar
  24. Judd AG, Hovland M (1992) The evidence of shallow gas in marine sediments. Cont Shelf Res 12:1081–1095Google Scholar
  25. Judd AG, Davies G, Wilson J, Holmes R, Baron G, Bryden I (1997) Contributions to atmospheric methane by natural seepages on the U.K. continental shelf. Mar Geol 140:427–455Google Scholar
  26. Kim DC, Lee GS, Lee GH, Park SC (2008) Sediment echo types and acoustic characteristics of gas-related acoustic anomalies in Jinhae Bay, southern Korea. Geosci J 12:47–61Google Scholar
  27. Lafuerza S, Sultan N, Canals M, Frigola J, Berne S, Jouet G, Galavazi M, Sierro F (2009) Overpressure within upper continental slope sediments from CPTU data, Gulf of Lion, NW Mediterranean Sea. Int J Earth Sci 98:751–768Google Scholar
  28. Lambert DN (1991) Biogenic gas i9n shallow water sediments as indicated by high-resolution seismic records. J Acoust Soc Am 89. Google Scholar
  29. Lazar M, Lang G, Schattner U (2016) Coincidence or not? Interconnected gas/fluid migration and ocean-atmosphere oscillations in the Levant Basin. Geo-Mar Lett 36:293–306Google Scholar
  30. Lazar M, Gasperini L, Lupi M, Mazzini A, Polonia A, Alcanie M, Be'eri-Shlevin Y, Caracausi A, Hensen C, Lang G, Romagnoli C, Sarid N, Yechieli Y (2018) Mapping active faults in the Sea of Galilee, Israel – a multi-disciplinary approach. In: EGU General Assembly 2018. 08–13 April 2018, Vienna, Austria.Google Scholar
  31. Lee GH, Kim HJ, Kim DC, Yi BY, Nam SM, Khim BK, Lim MS (2009) The acoustic diversity of the seabed based on the similarity index computed from Chirp seismic data. ICES J Mar Sci 66:227–236Google Scholar
  32. Luyendyk B, Kennett J, Clark JF (2005) Hypothesis for increased atmospheric methane input from hydrocarbon seeps on exposed continental shelves during glacial low sea level. Mar Pet Geol 22:591–596Google Scholar
  33. Martens CS, Albert DB, Alperin MJ (1998) Biogeochemical processes controlling methane in gassy coastal sediments-part 1. A model coupling organic matter flux to gas production, oxidation and transport. Cont Shelf Res 8:1741–1770Google Scholar
  34. Martens CS, Albert DB, Alperin MJ (1999) Stable isotope tracing of anaerobic methane oxidation in the gassy sediments of Eckernforde Bay, German Baltic Sea. Am J Sci 299:589–618Google Scholar
  35. Matveeva TV, Mazurenko LL, Soloviev VA, Klerkx J, Kaulio VV, Prasolov EM (2003) Gas hydrate accumulation in the subsurface sediments of Lake Baikal (Eastern Siberia). Geo-Mar Lett 23:289–299Google Scholar
  36. Mazumdar A, Peketi A, Dewangan P, Badesab F, Ramprasad T, Ramana MV, Patil DJ, Dayal A (2009) Shallow gas charged sediments off the Indian west coast: genesis and distribution. Mar Geol 267:71–85Google Scholar
  37. Mazzini A, Svensen HH, Forsberg CF, Linge H, Lauritzen S-E, Haflidason H, Hammer Ø, Planke S, Tjelt TI (2017) A climatic trigger for the giant Troll pockmark field in the northern North Sea. Earth Planet Sci Lett 464:24–34Google Scholar
  38. Missiaen T, Murphy S, Loncke L, Henriet J-P (2002) Very high-resolution seismic mapping of shallow gas in the Belgian coastal zone. Cont Shelf Res 22:2291–2301Google Scholar
  39. Okay S, Aydemir S (2016) Control of active faults and sea level changes on the distribution of shallow gas accumulations and gas-related seismic structures along the central branch of the North Anatolian Fault, southern Marmara shelf, Turkey. Geodin Acta 28:328–346Google Scholar
  40. Orphan VJ, Hinrichs KU, Ussler W 3rd, Paull CK, Taylor LT, Sylva SP, Hayes JM, Delong EF (2001) Comparative analysis of methane-oxidizing archaea and sulfate-reducing bacteria in anoxic marine sediments. Appl Environ Microbiol 67:1922–1934Google Scholar
  41. Ostrovsky I (2003) Methane bubbles in Lake Kinneret: quantification and temporal and spatial heterogeneity. Limnol Oceanogr 48:1030–1036Google Scholar
  42. Ostrovsky I (2009) The acoustic quantification of fish in the presence of methane bubbles in the stratified Lake Kinneret, Israel. ICES J Mar Sci 66:1043–1047Google Scholar
  43. Ostrovsky I, Tęgowski J (2010) Hydroacoustic analysis of spatial and temporal variability of bottom sediment characteristics in Lake Kinneret in relation to water level fluctuation. Geo-Mar Lett 30:261–269Google Scholar
  44. Ostrovsky I, McGinnis DF, Lapidus L, Eckert W (2008) Quantifying gas ebullition with echosound: the role of methane transport by bubbles in medium-sized lake. Limnol Oceanogr Methods 6:105–118Google Scholar
  45. Ostrovsky I, Rimmer A, Yacobi YZ, Nishri A, Sukenik A, Hadas O, Zohary T (2013) Long-term changes in the Lake Kinneret ecosystem: the effects of climate change and anthropogenic factors. In: Goldman CR, Kumagai M, Robarts RD (eds) Climatic change and global warming of inland waters: impacts and mitigation for ecosystems and societies. Wiley, pp 271–293Google Scholar
  46. Reshef M, Ben-Avraham Z, Tibor G, Marco S (2007) The use of acoustic imaging to reveal fossil fluvial systems—a case study from the southwestern Sea of Galilee. Geomorphology 83:58–66Google Scholar
  47. Schattner U, Lazar M, Harari D, Waldmann N (2012) Active gas migration systems offshore northern Israel, first evidence from seafloor and subsurface data. Cont Shelf Res 48:167–172Google Scholar
  48. Schubel JR (1974) Gas bubbles and the acoustically impenetrable, or turbid, character of some estuarine sediments. In: Kaplan IR (ed) Natural gases in marine sediments. Plenum Press, New York, pp 275–298Google Scholar
  49. Sivan O, Adler M, Pearson A, Gelman F, Bar-Or I, John SG, Eckert W (2011) Geochemical evidence for iron-mediated anaerobic oxidation of methane. Limnol Oceanogr 56:1536–1544Google Scholar
  50. Tibor G, Ben-Avraham Z, Herut B, Nishri A, Zurieli A (2004) Bottom morphology and shallow structures in the northwestern part of Lake Kinneret. Isr J Earth Sci 53:173–186Google Scholar
  51. Visnovitz F, Bodnár T, Zs T, Spiess V, Kudó I, Timár G, Horváth F (2015) Seismic expressions of shallow gas in the lacustrine deposits of Lake Balaton, Hungary. Near Surface Geophys 13:433–446Google Scholar
  52. Yacobi YZ, Ostrovsky I (2008) Downward flux of organic matter and pigments in Lake Kinneret (Israel): relationships between phytoplankton and the material collected in sediment traps. J Plankton Res 30:1189–1202Google Scholar
  53. Zohary T, Sukenik A, Berman T (2014) Peridinium gatunense. In: Zohary T, Sukenik A, Berman T, Nishri A (eds) Lake Kinneret, Aquatic ecology series, vol 6. Springer, Dordrecht, pp 191–212Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dr. Moses Strauss Department of Marine GeosciencesUniversity of HaifaHaifaIsrael
  2. 2.Institute of Marine Sciences-National Research Council (ISMAR CNR)BolognaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland
  4. 4.Department of GeosciencesUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations