Abstract

The upward migration of gas through marine sediments typically manifests itself as gas chimneys or pipes in seismic images and can lead to the formation of cold seeps. Gas seepage is often linked to morphological features like seabed domes, pockmarks, and carbonate build-ups. In this context, sediment doming is discussed to be a precursor of pockmark formation. Here, we present parametric echosounder, sidescan sonar, and two-dimensional seismic data from Opouawe Bank, offshore New Zealand, providing field evidence for sediment doming. Geomechanical quantification of the stresses required for doming show that the calculated gas column heights are geologically feasible and consistent with the observed geophysical data. The progression from channeled gas flow to gas trapping results in overpressure build-up in the shallow sediment. Our results suggest that by breaching of domed seafloor sediments a new seep site can develop, but contrary to ongoing discussion this does not necessarily lead to the formation of pockmarks.

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