Marine Geophysical Researches

, Volume 31, Issue 1–2, pp 1–16 | Cite as

Characterizing the thermal regime of cold vents at the northern Cascadia margin from bottom-simulating reflector distributions, heat-probe measurements and borehole temperature data

  • M. Riedel
  • A. M. Tréhu
  • G. D. Spence
Original Research Paper


Several cold vents are observed at the northern Cascadia margin offshore Vancouver Island in a 10 km2 region around Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 311 Site U1328. All vents are linked to fault systems that provide pathways for upward migrating fluids and at three vents methane plumes were detected acoustically in the water column. Downhole temperature measurements at Site U1328 revealed a geothermal gradient of 0.056 ± 0.004°C/m. With the measured in situ pore-water salinities the base of methane hydrate stability is predicted at 218–245 meters below seafloor. Heat-probe measurements conducted across Site U1328 and other nearby vents showed an average thermal gradient of 0.054 ± 0.004°C/m. Assuming that the bottom-simulating reflector (BSR) marks the base of the gas hydrate stability zone variations in BSR depths were used to investigate the linkages between the base of the gas hydrate stability zone and fluid migration. Variations in BSR depth can be attributed to lithology-related velocity changes or variations of in situ pore-fluid compositions. Prominent BSR depressions and reduced heat flow are seen below topographic highs, but only a portion of the heat flow reduction can be due to topography-linked cooling. More than half of the reduction may be due to thrust faulting or to pore-water freshening. Distinct changes in BSR depth below seafloor are observed at all cold vents studied and some portion of the observed decrease in the BSR depth was attributed to fault-related upwelling of warmer fluids. The observed decrease in BSR depth below seafloor underneath the vents ranges between 7 and 24 m (equivalent to temperature shifts of 0.07–0.15°C).


Gas hydrate Bottom-simulating reflector IODP Borehole studies Heat flow Fault controlled fluid flow Variations in BSR depth 



We thank the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), the National Science Foundation, and The US Department of Energy, National Gas Hydrate Research Program for making this research possible. We acknowledge the contribution of the shipboard party of IODP Expedition 311. The authors would further like to acknowledge the contributions of the Coast Guard crews onboard the research vessel John P. Tully and scientists involved in the data acquisition of the seismic data sets. Furthermore the author wants to acknowledge Seismic Micro Technology for the use of Kingdom Suite.


  1. Chapman NR, Gettrust J, Walia R, Hannay D, Spence GD, Wood W, Hyndman RD (2002) High resolution deep-towed multichannel seismic survey of deep sea gas hydrates off western Canada. Geophysics 67:1038–1047CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Davis EE, Hyndman RD, Villinger H (1990) Rates of uid expulsion across the northern Cascadia accretionary prism: constraints from new heat ow and multichannel seismic reection data. J Geophys Res 95:8869–8889CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Englezos P, Bishnoi PR (1988) Prediction of gas hydrate formation in aqueous solutions. Am Inst Chem Eng 34:1718–1721Google Scholar
  4. Fink CR, Spence GD (1999) Gas hydrate distribution off vancouver island from multi-frequency single channel seismic reflection data. J Geophys Res 104:2909–2922CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ganguly N, Spence GD, Chapman NR, Hyndman RD (2000) Heat flow variations from bottom simulating reflectors on the Cascadia margin. Mar Geol 164:53–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Haacke R, Hamilton T, Enkin R, Esteban L, Pohlman J (2008) PGC2008007: pacific geoscience centre marine gas hydrates cruise to the frontal ridge and mid-slope areas of the vancouver island accretionary wedge, PGC2008007 Cruise report, Geological Survey of Canada, p 147Google Scholar
  7. He T, Spence GD, Riedel M, Hyndman RD, Chapman NR (2007) Fluid flow and origin of a carbonate mound offshore vancouver island: seismic and heat flow constraints. Mar Geol 239:83–98. doi: 10.1016/j.margeo.2007.01.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Heeschen KU, Tréhu AM, Collier RW, Suess E, Rehder G (2003) Distribution and height of methane bubble plumes on the Cascadia margin offshore oregon from acoustic imaging. Geophys Res Let 30:1643–1647. doi: 10.1029/2003GL016974 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hobro JWD, Minshull TA, Singh SC, Chand S (2005) A three-dimensional seismic tomographic study of the gas hydrate stability zone, offshore vancouver island. J Geophys Res 110:B09102. doi: 10.1029/2004JB003477 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hornbach MJ, Ruppel C, Van Dover CL (2007) Three-dimensional structure of fluid conduits sustaining an active deep marine cold seep. Geophys Res Lett 34:L05601. doi: 10.1029/2006GL028859 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hyndman RD (1995) The Lithoprobe corridor across the vancouver island continental margin: the structural and tectonic consequences of subduction. Can J Earth Sci 32:1777–1802CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hyndman RD, Davis EE (1992) A mechanism for the formation of methane hydrate and seafloor bottom-simulating reflectors by vertical fluid expulsion. J Geophys Res 97:7025–7041CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hyndman RD, Wang K, Yuan T, Spence GD (1993) Tectonic sediment thickening: fluid expulsion and the thermal regime of subduction zone accretionary prisms: the cascadia margin off_vancouver island. J Geophys Res 98:21865–21876CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hyndman RD, Spence GD, Chapman NR, Riedel M, Edwards RN (2001) Geophysical studies of marine gas hydrates in northern Cascadia. AGU monograph, natural gas hydrates: occurrence, distribution, and dynamics, pp 273–295Google Scholar
  15. Kastner M, Kvenvolden KA, Whiticar MJ, Camerlenghi A, Lorenson TD (1995) Relation between pore fluid chemistry and gas hydrate associated with bottom-simulating reflectors at the Cascadia margin, sites 889 and 892, Proceedings of the ODP, scientific results, 146 (part 1), College Station, TX (Ocean Drilling Program), pp 175–187Google Scholar
  16. Kinoshita M, Goto S, Gulick SP, Mikada H (2002) Very focused expulsion of pore fluid along the western Nankai accretionary complex detected by closely-spaced heat flow measurements: Eos transactions, American geophysical union, fall meet. Suppl., 83(47), Abstract T11B–1247Google Scholar
  17. Lachenbruch AH (1968) Rapid estimation of the topographic disturbance to superficial thermal gradients. Rev Geophys 6:365–400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Liu X, Flemings PB (2006) Passing gas through the hydrate stability zone at southern hydrate ridge, offshore oregon. Earth Planet Sci Lett 241:211–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Liu X, Flemings PB (2007) Dynamic multiphase flow model of hydrate formation in marine sediments. J Geophys Res 112:B03101. doi: 10.1029/2005JB004227 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Matsumoto R, Hiruta A, Takeuchi E, Ishizaki O, Aoyama C, Machiyama H (2006) Giant methane plumes, gas hydrate mounds, and large pockmarks on the umitaka spur, eastern margin of Japan sea: impact of the sea level fall during the LGM, Eos transaction, American geophysical union, 87(52), fall meet. Suppl, Abstract OS12C-02Google Scholar
  21. Novosel I, Spence GD, Hyndman RD (2005) Reduced magnetization produced by increased methane flux at a gas hydrate vent. Mar Geol 216:265–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Pohlman J, Spence GD, Chapman NR, Hyndman RD, Grabowski KS, Coffin RB (2003) Evidence for anaerobic methane oxidation in gas hydrate rich sediments on the northern Cascadia margin offshore vancouver island: nice, France, EGS-AGU-EUG joint assembly, April 6–11Google Scholar
  23. Riedel M (2007) 4D seismic time-lapse monitoring of an active cold vent, northern Cascadia margin. Mar Geophys Res 28(4):355–371. doi: 10.1007/s11001-007-9037-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Riedel M, Collett TS, Malone MJ, and the Expedition 311 Scientists (2006a) Proceedings of the IODP, 311: Washington, DC (Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Management International, Inc). doi: 10.2204/iodp.proc.311.2006
  25. Riedel M, Hyndman RD, Spence GD, Chapman NR (2002) Seismic investigations of a vent field associated with gas hydrates, offshore vancouver island. J Geophys Res 107(B9):2200. doi: 10.1029/2001JB000269 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Riedel M, Novosel I, Spence GD, Hyndman RD, Chapman RN, Solem RC, Lewis T (2006b) Geophysical and geochemical signatures associated with gas hydrate related venting at the north Cascadia margin. GSA bulletin 118. doi: 10.1130/B25720.1
  27. Schwalenberg K, Willoughby EC, Mir R, Edwards RN (2005) Marine gas hydrate signatures in Cascadia and their correlation with seismic blank zones. First Break 23:57–63Google Scholar
  28. Sloan ED (1997) Clathrate hydrates of natural gas, 2nd edn. Marcel Dekker, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. Solem RC, Spence GD, Vukajlovich D, Hyndman RD, Riedel M, Novosel I, Kastner M (2002) Methane advection and gas hydrate formation within an active vent field offshore vancouver island, proceedings of the 4th international conference on gas hydrate, YokohamaGoogle Scholar
  30. Spence GD, Hyndman RD, Chapman NR, Riedel M, Edwards RN, Yuan J (2000) Cascadia margin, northeast Pacific ocean: hydrate. Distribution from geophysical observations. In: Max MD (ed) Natural gas hydrates. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp 183–198Google Scholar
  31. Tréhu AM, Bohrmann G, Rack FR, Torres ME et al (2003) Proceedings of the ODP, initial report, 204. ocean drilling program, Texas A&M University, College Station TX, 77845-9547, USAGoogle Scholar
  32. Westbrook GK, Carson B, Musgrave RJ et al (1994) Proceedings of the ocean drilling program, initial report, vol. 146 (part 1). Ocean drilling program, College Station, TexasGoogle Scholar
  33. Willoughby EC, Schwalenberg K, Edwards RN, Spence GD, Hyndman RD (2005) Assessment of marine gas hydrate deposits: a comparative study of seismic, electromagnetic and seafloor compliance methods, international conference on gas hydrates, Trondheim, NorwayGoogle Scholar
  34. Wood WT, Gettrust JF, Chapman NR, Spence GD, Hyndman RD (2002) Decreased stability of methane gas hydrates in marine sediments owing to phase-boundary roughness. Nature 420:656–660CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Yuan T, Spence GD, Hyndman RD (1994) Seismic velocities and inferred porosities in the accretionary wedge sediments at the Cascadia margin. J Geophys Res 99:4413–4427CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Yuan T, Hyndman RD, Spence GD, Desmos B (1996) Seismic velocity increase and deep-sea gas hydrate concentration above a bottom-simulating reflector on the northern Cascadia continental slope. J Geophys Res 101:13665–13671Google Scholar
  37. Zühlsdorff L, Spiess V (2004) Three-dimensional seismic characterization of a venting site reveals compelling indications of natural hydraulic fracturing. Geology 32(2):101–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Natural Resources CanadaGeological Survey of Canada, Pacific, Sidney SubdivisionSidneyCanada
  2. 2.College of Oceanic and Atmospheric SciencesOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  3. 3.School of Earth and Ocean SciencesUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

Personalised recommendations