Abstract

Aqueous flux measurements within cold seep regions on northern Hydrate Ridge, Cascadia, indicate a high degree of variability, with extended periods of downflow and reversals of flow direction over periods of weeks to months. Local episodic venting of free methane gas was also observed. The instruments recorded similar changes in hydrologic flow patterns both on and off clam fields, the magnitude of the flow rates decreasing away from the clam field. The coincidence of episodic gas venting with nearby highly variable aqueous fluid flow suggests that they may be coupled. We propose that these observations are consistent with the action of a gas-driven pump that operates somewhat like a geyser. The hypothesis of gas-driven pumping of seawater through northern Hydrate Ridge has important ramifications for the mass fluxes through this region.

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