Abstract

High-amplitude anomalies (HAAs), bottom-simulating reflectors (BSRs), vertical acoustic blanking features, polygonal faults, and mass transport complexes are observed in high-resolution 3D seismic data from the south of the Pearl River Mouth Basin, South China Sea. We have focused on the role of fluid migration in the occurrence of shallow gas and gas hydrates. HAAs are interpreted to be shallow gas accumulations or gas hydrates, depending on their polarity and the presence of BSRs. Acoustic blanking features are probably caused by the presence of gas chimneys and overlying free gas due to features including chaotic and weak seismic reflections, pull-downs, and long distances of vertical extension. These gas chimneys root into the underlying late Oligocene gas reservoir. There is a close spatial relationship among the gas reservoir, gas chimneys, shallow gas accumulations, and BSRs, suggesting a genetic link. We have developed a schematic model to explain the processes of fluid migration, which supplied gas to the shallow gas accumulations and the gas hydrate system. When the gas reservoir was critically pressured, the focused fluid migration pathways may be formed or be reactivated, and gas was transported vertically along these conduits to the shallow strata. Then, there were two destinies for the migrated gas at shallow depths. One is that gas was trapped below low-permeability seals, such as mudstone or gas hydrates, forming shallow gas accumulations or free gas zones. The other one is that gas entered the gas hydrate stability zone and formed gas hydrates. In addition, this research indicates that the shallow hydrocarbon resource in this area may not be very prolific probably due to limited fluid migration.

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