Geo-Marine Letters

, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 281–292 | Cite as

ROV study of a giant pockmark on the Gabon continental margin

  • H. Ondréas
  • K. Olu
  • Y. Fouquet
  • J. L. Charlou
  • A. Gay
  • B. Dennielou
  • J. P. Donval
  • A. Fifis
  • T. Nadalig
  • P. Cochonat
  • E. Cauquil
  • J. F. Bourillet
  • M. Le Moigne
  • M. Sibuet
Original

Abstract

A giant, 800-m wide pockmark, called Regab, was discovered along the Equatorial African margin at 3160-m water depth and was explored by remote operated vehicle (ROV) as part of the Zaiango (1998–2000) and Biozaire (2001–2003) projects carried out conjointly by TOTAL and a number of French research institutes. A microbathymetric map obtained using the ROV sensors shows that the pockmark actually consists of a cluster of smaller pockmarks aligned N70 along a 15-m deep depression. Methane was recorded all over the pockmark, the highest values along the axis of the depression where massive carbonate crusts and dense seep communities were also found. Several faunal species belong to the Vesicomyidae and Mytilidae bivalve families, as well as to Siboglinidae (Vestimentifera) tubeworms. Preliminary analyses confirm their association with symbiotic bacteria, thus documenting their dependence on fluid seeps. The pockmark appears to be related to an infilled channel, visible on the seismic data 300 m below the seafloor, which may act as a reservoir for biogenic fluids supplied to the trap from the surrounding sediments.

References

  1. Aloisi G, Pierre C, Rouchy JM, Foucher JP, Woodside J, Medinaut Scientific Party (2000) Methane-related authigenic carbonates of eastern Mediterranean Sea mud volcanoes and their possible relation to gas hydrate destabilisation. EPSL 184:321–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andersen A, Hourdez S, Marie B, Jollivet D, Lallier F, Sibuet M (2004) Escarpia southwardae sp. nov., a new species of vestimentiferan tubeworm (Annelida, Siboglinidae) from West-African cold seeps. Can J Zool 82:980–999CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bergquist DC, Andras JP, McNelis T, Howlett S, van Horn MJ, Fisher CR (2003a) Succession in Gulf of Mexico cold seep vestimentiferan aggregations: the importance of spatial variability. PSZNI Mar Ecol 24:31–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bergquist DC, Ward T, Cordes EE, McNelis T, Howlett S, Kosoff R, Hourdez S, Carney RS, Fisher CR (2003b) Community structure of vestimentiferan-generated habitat islands from Gulf of Mexico cold seeps. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 289:197–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Boe R, Rise L, Ottesen D (1998) Elongate depressions on the southern slope of the Norwegian Trench (Skagerrak): morphology and evolution. Mar Geol 146:191–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Boetius A, Ravenschlag K, Schubert GJ, Rickert D, Widdel F, Gieseke A, Amann R, Jorgensen BB, Witte U, Pfannkuche O (2000) A marine microbial consortium apparently mediating anaerobic oxidation of methane. Nature 407:623–626CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Charlou JL, Donval JP (1993) Hydrothermal methane venting between 12N and 26N along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. J Geophys Res 98:9625–9642Google Scholar
  8. Charlou JL, Donval JP, Fouquet Y, Ondréas H, Cochonat P, Levaché D, Poirier Y, Jean-Baptiste P, Fourré E, Chazallon B, Zairov-Leg 2 Scientific Party (2004) Physical and chemical characterization of gas hydrates and associated methane plumes in the Congo-Angola Basin. Chem Geol 205:405–425CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cole D, Stewart SA, Cartwright JA (2000) Giant irregular pockmark craters in the Palaeogene of the Outer Moray Firth Basin, UK North Sea. Mar Petrol Geol 17:563–577CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Coleman DF, Ballard RD (2001) A highly concentrated region of cold hydrocarbon seeps in the southeastern Mediterranean Sea. Geo-Mar Lett 21:162–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dimitrov L, Woodside J (2003) Deep sea pockmark environments in the eastern Mediterranean. Mar Geol 195(1/4):263–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Droz L, Marsset T, Ondréas H, Lopez M, Savoye B, Spy-Anderson FL (2003) Architecture of an active mud-rich turbidite system: the Zaire fan (Congo-Angola margin southeast Atlantic): results from Zaiango 1 and 2 cruises. AAPG 87(7):1145–1169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Eichhubl P, Greene HG, Naehr T, Maher N (2000) Structural control of fluid flow: offshore fluid seepage in the Santa Barbara Basin, California. J Geochem Explor 69/70:545–549CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fader GBJ (1991) Gas-related sedimentary features from the eastern Canadian continental shelf. Cont Shelf Res 11:1123–1153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fisher CR, Urcuyo IA, Simpkins MA, Nix E (1997) Life in the slow lane: growth and longevity of cold-seep vestimentiferans. PSZNI Mar Ecol 18:83–94Google Scholar
  16. Fisher CR, MacDonald IR, Sassen R, Young CM, Macko SA, Hourdez S, Carney RS, Joye S, McMullin E (2000) Methane ice worms: Hesiocaeca methanicola colonizing fossil fuel reserves. Naturwissenschaften 87:184–187CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Fleischer P, Orsi TH, Richardson MD, Anderson AL (2001) Distribution of free gas in marine sediments: a global overview. Geo-Mar Lett 21:103–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gay A, Lopez M, Cochonat P, Sultan N, Cauquil E, Brigaud F (2003) Sinuous pockmarks belt as indicator of a shallow buried turbiditic channel on the lower slope of the Congo Basin, West African Margin. Geol Soc Lond Spec Publ 216:173–189Google Scholar
  19. Hovland M (1981) Characteristics of pockmarks in the Norwegian Trench. Mar Geol 39:103–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hovland M, Judd AG (1988) Seabed pockmarks and seepages. Impact on geology, biology and marine environment. Graham and Trotman, LondonGoogle Scholar
  21. Hovland M, Judd AG, King LH (1984) Characteristic features of pockmarks on the North Sea floor and Scotian shelf. Sedimentology 31:471–480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hovland M, Talbot MR, Qvale H, Olaussen S, Aasberg L (1987) Methane-related carbonate cements in pockmarks of the North Sea. J Sedim Petrol 57(5):881–892Google Scholar
  23. Jansen JHF, Van Weering TCE, Gieles R, Van Iperen J (1984) Middle and Late Quaternary oceanography and climatology of the Zaire-Congo fan and adjacent eastern Angola Basin. Neth J Sea Res 17:201–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Josenhans HW, King LH, Fader GB (1978) A side-scan sonar mosaic of pockmarks on the Scotian Shelf. Can J Earth Sci 15:831–841Google Scholar
  25. Judd AG (2003) The global importance and context of methane escape from the seabed. In: Woodside JM, Garrison RE, Moore JC, Kvenvolden KA (eds) Proceedings 7th international conference gas in marine sediments, 7–12 October 2002, Baku, Azerbaijan. Geo-Mar Lett 23(3/4):147–154Google Scholar
  26. Kasten S, Hensen C, Zabel M, Ravenschlag K, Boetius A, Spiess V, Schneider R (2001) Gas hydrates in surface sediments of the Northern Congo Fan—geochemical and microbiological characterization of the top of the gas hydrate stability zone. In: Abstracts of the Vol EUG XI, 8–12 April 2001, Strasbourg, p 1855Google Scholar
  27. Kelley JT, Dickson SM, Belknap DF, Barngardt WA, Henderson M (1994) Giant sea-bed pockmarks: evidence for gas escape from Belfast Bay, Maine. Geology 22:59–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. King LH, MacLean B (1970) Pockmarks on the Scotian Shelf. Geol Soc Am Bull 81:3141–3148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Komai T, Segonzac M (2005) A revision of the genus Alvinocaris Williams and Chace (Crustacea: Decapoda: Caridea: Alvinocarididae), with descriptions of a new genus and a new species of Alvinocaris. J Nat Hist 39:1–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Laubier L, Ohta S, Sibuet M (1986) Découverte de communautés animales profondes durant la campagne franco-japonaise Kaiko de plongées dans les fosses de subduction autour du Japon. C R Acad Sci Paris Sér III 303:25–29Google Scholar
  31. MacDonald IR, Reilly JF II, Guinasso NL Jr, Brooks JM, Carney RS, Bryant WA, Bright TJ (1990) Chemosynthetic mussels at a brine-filled pockmark in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Science 248:1096–1099CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. MacDonald IR, Sager WW, Peccini MB (2003) Gas hydrate and chemosynthetic biota in mounded bathymetry at mid-slope hydrocarbon seeps: Northern Gulf of Mexico. Mar Geol 198:133–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Marsset T, Droz L, Pichon E, Dennielou B, Babonneau N, Savoye B (2003) Cyclicités dans l’architecture interne du système turbiditique du Zaire. In: Abstracts of the vol 9ème Congr Français de Sédimentologie, 14–16 October 2003, University of Bordeaux, pp 338–339Google Scholar
  34. Mazurenko LL, Soloviev VA (2003) Worldwide distribution of deep-water fluid venting and potential occurrences of gas hydrate accumulations. In: Woodside JM, Garrison RE, Moore JC, Kvenvolden KA (eds) Proceedings of the 7th international conference on gas in marine sediments, 7–12 October 2002, Baku, Azerbaijan. Geo-Mar Lett 23(3/4):162–176Google Scholar
  35. Moulin M, Contrucci I, Olivet JL, Aslanian D, Géli L, Sibuet JC, Nouze H, Réhault JP, Unternehr P (2002) Deep structures of the Angola margin. In: Abstracts of the volume conference of European geophysical society, 21–26 April 2002, Nice, p79Google Scholar
  36. Nadalig T, Olu-Le Roy K, Budzinsky H, Cambon-Bonavita MA, Sibuet M (2001) Evidence of chemoautotrophy and characterization of bacterial symbionts of invertebrates at two cold seep sites (Gulf of Guinea). In: Abstracts of the volume 2nd international symposium on deep-sea hydrothermal vent biology, 8–12 October 2001, IFREMER, Brest, p205Google Scholar
  37. Nix ER, Fisher CR, Vodenichar J, Scott KM (1995) Physiological ecology of a mussel with methanotrophic endosymbionts at three hydrocarbon seep sites in the Gulf of Mexico. Mar Biol 122:605–617CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Olu-Le Roy K, Cochonat P, Fifis A, Ondréas H, Sibuet M (2001) Spatial distribution of chemosynthetic fauna from video records at a new cold seep site in the Gulf of Guinea. In: Abstracts of the volume 2nd international symposium on deep-sea hydrothermal vent biology, 8–12 October 2001, IFREMER, Brest, p 209Google Scholar
  39. Orange DL, Greene HG, Reed D, Martin JB, McHuh CM, Ryan WBF, Maher N, Stakes D, Barry J (1999) Widespread fluid expulsion on a translational continental margin: mud volcanoes, fault zones, headless canyons, and organic-rich substrate in Monterey Bay, California. GSA Bull 111(7):992–1009CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Orange DL, Yun J, Maher N, Barry J, Greene G (2002) Tracking California seafloor seeps with bathymetry, backscatter and ROVs. Cont Shelf Res 22(16):2273–2290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Pancost RD, Sinninghe Damsté JS, Lint De S, Maarel Van der MJEC, Gottschal JC, Medinaut Scientific Party (2000) Biomarker evidence for widespread anaerobic methane oxidation in mediterranean sediments by a consortium of methanogenic archaea and bacteria. Appl Environ Microbiol 66:1126–1132CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Paull CK, Hecker B, Commeau R, Freeman-Lynde RP, Neumann C, Corso WP, Golubic S, Hook JE, Sikes E, Curray J (1984) Biological communities at the Florida escarpment resemble hydrothermal vent taxa. Science 226:965–967CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Paull CK, Ussler W, Maher N, Greene HG, Rehder G, Lorenson T, Lee H (2002) Pockmarks off Big Sur, California. Mar Geol 181(4):323–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Roberts P, Yapaudjian L (1990) Early Cretaceous rift sediments of the Gabon-Congo margin: lithology and organic matter; tectonic and paleogeothermal evolution. J Afr Earth Sci 10:319–330CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Savoye B, Cochonat P, Apprioual R, Bain O, Baltzer A, 33 others (2000) Structure et évolution récente de l’éventail turbiditique du Zaïre: premiers rèsultats scientifiques des missions d’exploration Zaïango 1 et 2 (marge Congo-Angola). CR Acad Sci Terre Planèt 331:211–220Google Scholar
  46. Scanlon KM, Knebel HJ (1989) Pockmarks in the floor of Penobscot Bay, Maine. Geo-Mar Lett 9:53–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Schoell M (1988) Multiple origins of methane in the earth. Chem Geol 71:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Séranne M, Séguret M, Fauchier M (1992) Seismic super-units and post-rift evolution of the continental passive margin of southern Gabon. Bull Soc Géol Fr 163(2):135–146Google Scholar
  49. Sibuet M, Olu K (1998) Biogeography, biodiversity and fluid dependence of deep-sea cold-seep communities at active and passive margins. Deep-Sea Res II 45:517–567CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Sibuet M, Olu-Le Roy K (2002) Cold seep communities on continental margins: structure and quantitative distribution relative to geological and fluid venting patterns. In: Wefer G, Billett D, Hebbeln D, Jorgensen B, Schlüter M, van Weering T (eds) Ocean margin systems. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 235–251Google Scholar
  51. Sibuet M, Juniper SK, Pautot G (1988) Cold-seep benthic communities in the Japan subduction zones: geological control of community development. J Mar Res 46:333–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sibuet M, Galéron J, Khripounoff A, Menot L, Olu-Le Roy K, Durrieu J, Miné J, Caprais JC, Crassous P, Fabri MC, Vangriesheim A, Desneulin J, Savoye B, Cochonat P, Ondréas P, Etoubleau J, Loubrieu B, Dinet A, Von Cosel R (2002) Deep sea ecosystems on the Equatorial African Margin: first results of a pluridisciplinary environmental programme and discovery of chemosynthesis based ecosystem. In: Abstracts of the volume 6th international conference of health, safety and environment in oil and gas exploration and production, 20–22 March 2002, Kuala-Lumpur, Society of Petroleum Engineering, ref SPE 73875Google Scholar
  53. Sibuet M, Caprais JC, Crassous P, Duperron S, Fabri MC, Fifis A, Galéron J, Khripounoff A, Menot L, Nadalig T, Olu-Le Roy K, Vangriesheim A, Andersen A, Von Cosel R (2003) Rich and complex deep-sea ecosystems on the equatorial African margin: general objectives and results of the Biozaire environmental program. In: Abstracts of the volume 10th international symposium of deep-sea biology, 25–29 August 2003, University of Oregon, p 39Google Scholar
  54. Sieck HC (1975) Practical application of offshore site hazard surveys. Ocean Eng 15:6–9Google Scholar
  55. Soter S (1999) Macroscopic seismic anomalies and submarine pockmarks in the Corinth-Patras rift, Greece. Tectonophysics 308:275–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Suess E, Carson B, Ritger SD, Moore JC, Jones ML, Kulm LD, Cochrane GR (1985) Biological communities at vent sites along the subduction zone off Oregon. Bull Biol Soc Washington 6:475–484Google Scholar
  57. Taylor MH, Dillon WP, Pecher IA (2000) Trapping and migration of methane associated with the gas hydrate stability zone at the Blake Ridge Diapir: new insights from seismic data. Mar Geol 164:79–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Westbrook GK, Carson B, Musgrave RJ et al. (1994) Cascadia Margin section 6: cores. In: Suess E, von Huene R (eds) Proceedings of the ODP, Initial Reports 146(1). Ocean Drilling Program, College Station, TX, pp 555–587Google Scholar
  59. Whiticar MJ (1999) Carbon and hydrogen isotope systematics of bacterial formation and oxidation of methane. Chem Geol 161:291–314CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Ondréas
    • 1
  • K. Olu
    • 2
  • Y. Fouquet
    • 1
  • J. L. Charlou
    • 1
  • A. Gay
    • 3
  • B. Dennielou
    • 1
  • J. P. Donval
    • 1
  • A. Fifis
    • 2
  • T. Nadalig
    • 4
  • P. Cochonat
    • 1
  • E. Cauquil
    • 5
  • J. F. Bourillet
    • 1
  • M. Le Moigne
    • 6
  • M. Sibuet
    • 2
  1. 1.Département GéosciencesIFREMERPlouzanéFrance
  2. 2.Département Environnement ProfondIFREMERPlouzanéFrance
  3. 3.Laboratoire GTS, place BataillonUniversité Montpellier IIMontpellier cedex 5France
  4. 4.Laboratoire de Microbiologie et de GénétiqueUniversité Louis Pasteur, CNRS-FRE 2326, Institut de BotaniqueStrasbourg cedexFrance
  5. 5.TOTALCourbevoieFrance
  6. 6.Direction Environnement LittoralIFREMERNantes cedexFrance

Personalised recommendations