Dr. John Dunbar, associate professor of geology at Baylor, and his team used an electrical resistivity method to acquire geophysical data at the site, located roughly 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. The Baylor researchers were able to provide a detailed map of where the methane hydrate is located and how deep it extends underneath the seafloor.
Located in an area called the Mississippi Canyon, the site is about 3,000-feet-wide, 3,000-feet under water, and has both active and dormant gas vents. Scientists have been researching the site since 2001, but have not been able to ascertain where the hydrate is located nor how much is there until now.
“The conventional search methods have been fairly effective in certain situations, but the resistivity method is a totally different approach,” Dunbar said. “The benefit to the resistivity method is it shows the near-bottom in greater detail, and that is where the methane hydrate is located in this case. This research shows the resistivity method works and is effective.”
Dunbar and his research team injected a direct electrical current into the seafloor to measure the resistivity of the sediment beneath the sea floor. The measurement of resistivity – the ability of a material to resist conduction of electricity – showed the researchers where the methane hydrate is located. To do this, Dunbar and his team dragged a “sled” – a device with a nearly one-kilometer-long towed array – back and forth over the site, injecting the electrical current. Sediment containing methane hydrate within its pores showed higher resistivity, compared to sediment containing salt water. While the measurement of resistivity has been used for some time, the method has seldom been used at deep depths.
The new method showed researchers that the methane hydrate was located only in limited spots, usually occurring along faults under the sea floor. Dunbar said the method also showed the methane hydrate is not as abundant as previously thought at the site.
The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded Dunbar more than $115,000 to continue researching the site. Dunbar and his team will reconfigure the towed array and shorten the length of it to about 1,500 feet. They also will cluster sensors around certain areas on the array, which will give researchers a clearer picture of how deep the methane hydrate extends and will allow them to create a three-dimensional picture of the underwater site.
An ice-like solid, methane hydrate is found beneath the seafloor in many locations across the globe, usually at depths greater than 3,000 feet. The most common place to find gas hydrate mounds in the Gulf of Mexico are along the intersections of faults with the seafloor. According to the U.S Geological Survey, the nation’s methane hydrate deposits are estimated to hold a vast 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. If just one percent of those deposits are commercially produced, it would more than double the country’s natural gas reserves.
For more information, contact Matt Pene, assistant director of media communications at Baylor, at (254) 710-4656.
Matt Pene | Newswise Science News
New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland
19.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg
Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle
17.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences