Effects of salinity on methane gas hydrate system

Abstract

Using an approximately analytical formation, we extend the steady state model of the pure methane hydrate system to include the salinity based on the dynamic model of the methane hydrate system. The top and bottom boundaries of the methane hydrate stability zone (MHSZ) and the actual methane hydrate zone (MHZ), and the top of free gas occurrence are determined by using numerical methods and the new steady state model developed in this paper. Numerical results show that the MHZ thickness becomes thinner with increasing the salinity, and the stability is lowered and the base of the MHSZ is shifted toward the seafloor in the presence of salts. As a result, the thickness of actual hydrate occurrence becomes thinner compared with that of the pure water case. On the other hand, since lower solubility reduces the amount of gas needed to form methane hydrate, the existence of salts in seawater can actually promote methane gas hydrate formation in the hydrate stability zone. Numerical modeling also demonstrates that for the salt-water case the presence of methane within the field of methane hydrate stability is not sufficient to ensure the occurrence of gas hydrate, which can only form when the methane concentration dissolved in solution with salts exceeds the local methane solubility in salt water and if the methane flux exceeds a critical value corresponding to the rate of diffusive methane transport. In order to maintain gas hydrate or to form methane gas hydrate in marine sediments, a persistent supplied methane probably from biogenic or thermogenic processes, is required to overcome losses due to diffusion and advection.

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Correspondence to DingHui Yang.

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Supported by NSF (USA) (Grant No. OCE-0242163) and partially by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 40574014)

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Yang, D., Xu, W. Effects of salinity on methane gas hydrate system. SCI CHINA SER D 50, 1733–1745 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11430-007-0126-5

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Keywords

  • methane gas hydrate
  • solubility
  • stability of hydrate
  • salinity
  • phase equilibrium