Abstract

Geophysical evidence for gas hydrates is widespread along the northern flank of the Storegga Slide on the mid-Norwegian margin. Bottom-simulating reflectors (BSR) at the base of the gas hydrate stability zone cover an area of approximately 4000 km2, outside but also inside the Storegga Slide scar area. Traveltime inversion and forward modeling of multicomponent wide-angle seismic data result in detailed P- and S-wave velocities of hydrate- and gas-bearing sediment layers. The relationship between the velocities constrains the background velocity model for a hydrate-free, gas-free case. The seismic velocities indicate that hydrate concentrations in the pore space of sediments range between 3% and 6% in a zone that is as much as 50 m thick overlying the BSR. Hydrates are most likely disseminated, neither cementing the sediment matrix nor affecting the stiffness of the matrix noticeably. Average free-gas concentrations beneath the hydrate stability zone are approximately 0.4% to 0.8% of the pore volume, assuming a homogeneous gas distribution. The free-gas zone underneath the BSR is about 80 m thick. Amplitude and reflectivity analyses suggest a rather complex distribution of gas along specific sedimentary strata rather than along the base of the gas hydrate stability zone (BGHS). This gives rise to enhanced reflections that terminate at the BGHS. The stratigraphic control on gas distribution forces the gas concentration to increase slightly with depth at certain locations. Gas-bearing layers can be as thin as 2 m.

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