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Natural Gas Hydrates in the Offshore Beaufort–Mackenzie Basin—Study of a Feasible Energy Source II


In the offshore part of Beaufort–Mackenzie Basin depth of methane hydrate stability reaches more than 1.5 km. However, there are areas in the western part of the basin where there are no conditions of methane hydrate stability. Construction of the first contour maps displaying thickness of hydrate stability zones as well as hydrate stability zone thicknesses below permafrost in the offshore area, shows that these zones can reach 1200 m and 900 m, respectively. Depth to the base of ice-bearing relict permafrost under the sea (depth of the −1°C isotherm-ice-bearing permafrost base) and regional variations of geothermal gradient are the main controlling factors. Hydrostatic pressures in the upper 1500 m are the rule. History of methane hydrate stability zone is related mainly to the history of permafrost and it reached maximum depth in early Holocene. More recently, the permafrost and hydrate zone is diminishing because of sea transgression. Reevaluation of the location of possible gas hydrate occurrences is done from the analysis of well logs and other indicators in conjunction with knowledge of the hydrate stability zone. In the offshore Beaufort–Mackenzie Basin, methane hydrate occurs in 21 wells. Nine of these locations coincides with underlying conventional hydrocarbon occurrences. Previous analyses place some of the hydrate occurrences at greater depths than proposed for the methane hydrate-stability zone described in this study. Interpretation of geological cross sections and maps of geological sequences reveals that hydrates are occurring in the Iperk–Kugmallit sequence. Hydrate–gas contact zones, however, are possible in numerous situations. As there are no significant geological seals in the deeper part of the offshore basin (all hydrates are within Iperk), it is suggested that overlying permafrost and hydrate stability zone acted as the only trap for upward migrating gas during the last tens of thousand of years (i.e., Sangamonian to Holocene).

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Majorowicz, J.A., Hannigan, P.K. Natural Gas Hydrates in the Offshore Beaufort–Mackenzie Basin—Study of a Feasible Energy Source II. Natural Resources Research 9, 201–214 (2000).

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  • gas hydrates
  • methane
  • energy
  • permafrost
  • geothermics