Journal of Ocean University of China

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 69–80 | Cite as

Research Progress of Seafloor Pockmarks in Spatio-Temporal Distribution and Classification

  • Cuiling Xu
  • Guoqiang Xu
  • Junhui XingEmail author
  • Zhilei Sun
  • Nengyou Wu


Seafloor pockmarks are important indicators of submarine methane seepages and slope instabilities. In order to promote the understanding of submarine pockmarks and their relationship with sediment instabilities and climate changes, here we summarize the research results of pockmarks in the spatio-temporal distributions and shaping factors. Most of pockmarks occur along active or passive continental margins during the last 25 kyr B.P.. Circular and ellipse are the most common forms of pockmarks, whereas pockmarks in a special crescent or elongated shape are indicators of slope instabilities, and ring-shape pockmarks are endemic to the gas hydrate zones. Further researches should be focused on the trigger mechanism of climate changes based on the pockmarks in the high latitudes formed during the deglaciation periods, and the role of gas hydrates in the seafloor evolution should be elucidated. In addition, the feature of pockmarks at their early stage (e.g., developing gas chimneys and gas driving sedimentary doming) and the relations between pockmarks and mass movements, mud diapirs could be further studied to clarify the influences of rapid methane release from submarine sediments on the atmospheric carbon contents.

Key words

pockmark cold seep methane seepage gas hydrate slump 


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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41606044, 41906068, 91 858208), the National Key Research and Development Program (No. 2018YFC031000303), the Taishan Scholar Special Experts Project (No. ts201712079) and the Marine Geological Survey Program of China Geological Survey (No. DD20190819). We also appreciate the two anonymous reviewers for their valuable suggestions


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© Ocean University of China, Science Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cuiling Xu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Guoqiang Xu
    • 4
  • Junhui Xing
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Zhilei Sun
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nengyou Wu
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Gas Hydrate, Qingdao Institute of Marine GeologyMinistry of Natural ResourcesQingdaoChina
  2. 2.Laboratory for Marine Mineral ResourcesQingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and TechnologyQingdaoChina
  3. 3.College of Marine Geosciences/Key Laboratory of Submarine Geosciences and Prospecting TechniquesMinistry of EducationQingdaoChina
  4. 4.The First Institute of OceanographyMinistry of Natural ResourcesQingdaoChina

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