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Methane fluxes in the southeastern Baltic Sea

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New data from surveys of gas-bearing mud areas in the Gdansk Deep (southeastern Baltic Sea) were collected during four research cruises in 2009–2011. These revealed the presence of seven large pockmarks apart from the three already known, and enabled significant improvement of the existing digital map of gassy mud distribution. Based on geochemical sediment analyses, calculated diffusive methane fluxes from the upper (0–5 cm) seabed layer into near-bottom waters were highest—3.3 mmol/(m2 day)—in pockmark mud, contrasting strongly with the minimum value of 0.004 mmol/(m2 day) observed in typical, background mud. However, fluxes of less than 0.1 mmol/(m2 day) were observed in all sediment types, including pockmarks. In a newer attempt to roughly estimate budgets at a more regional scale, diffusive methane venting amounts to 280 × 106 mmol/day for southeastern Baltic Sea muddy sediments. Elongated pockforms in the southern Gotland Deep, known since the end of the 1980s as pockmarks, had methane concentrations that were similar to those of gassy mud from the Gdansk Basin, and there was no geo-acoustic evidence of considerably increased gas levels.

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This study was supported by the RFBR 11-05-01093-а and 08-04-92422-BONUS_а. We are grateful to Prof. Bo Barker Jørgensen and Dr. José Mogollón for their assistance in diffusive flux calculations, to Alexander Krek for his help, and to the crews of R/V Professor Shtokman and Shelf for their support during the cruises. Also acknowledged are constructive assessments and comments by Dr. T. Missiaen, an anonymous reviewer, and the editors.

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Correspondence to Marina Ulyanova.

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Responsible guest editors: M. De Batist and O. Khlystov

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Ulyanova, M., Sivkov, V., Kanapatskij, T. et al. Methane fluxes in the southeastern Baltic Sea. Geo-Mar Lett 32, 535–544 (2012).

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