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TitleStability zone of natural gas hydrates in a permafrost-bearing region of the Beaufort-Mackenzie Basin : study of a feasible energy source
AuthorMajorowicz, J A; Hannigan, P K
SourceNatural Resources Research vol. 9, no. 1, 2000 p. 3-25
Alt SeriesGeological Survey of Canada, Contribution Series 1999275
ProvinceNorthwest Territories; Yukon
NTS107A/12; 107A/13; 107B/09; 107B/10; 107B/11; 107B/12; 107B/13; 107B/14; 107B/15; 107B/16; 107C; 107D/04; 107D/05; 107D/12; 107D/13; 117A/09; 117A/10; 117A/11; 117A/14; 117A/15; 117A/16; 117D/01; 117D/02; 117D/03; 117D/06; 117D/07; 117D/08; 117D/09; 117D/10; 117D/11; 117D/14; 117D/15; 117D/16
AreaMackenzie basins
Lat/Long WENS-139.0000 -131.0000 70.0000 68.5000
Subjectsfossil fuels; sedimentology; hydrate deposits; methane hydrate; hydrate; permafrost; thermal conductivity; petroleum occurrence; energy resources; energy
Illustrationsgraphs; formulae; tables; location maps; geological sketch maps; stratigraphic columns
AbstractAnalysis of geological and geophysical data from 150 wells in the Beaufort-Mackenzie region (study area between 68°30?-70°00?N and 131°-39°W) led to reinterpretation of the depth of methane hydrate stability and construction of the first contour maps displaying thickness of hydrate stability zones as well as hydrate stability zone thicknesses below permafrost. Calculations were based on construction of temperature-depth profiles incorporating regional heat-flow values, temperature at the base of ice-bearing permafrost, and models relating thermal conductivity with depth. Data analysis indicates the presence and extent of the methane hydrate stability zone is related mainly to the history of permafrost development and less so by the relatively small regional variations of temperature gradients. Analysis of well logs and other indicators in conjunction with knowledge of the hydrate stability zone allows reevaluation of the location of possible gas hydrate occurrences. Log analysis indicates that in the onshore and shallow sea area of the Beaufort-Mackenzie Basin, methane hydrate occurs in 27 wells. Fifteen of these locations coincides with underlying conventional hydrocarbon occurrences. Previous analyses place some of the hydrate occurrences at greater depths than proposed for the methane hydrate stability zone described in this study. Interpretation of geological cross sections reveals that hydrates are related mainly to sandy deltaic and delta-plain deposits in Iperk, Kugmallit, and Reindeer sequences although additional hydrate picks have been inferred in other sequences, such as Richards. Overlying permafrost may act as seal for hydrate accumulations; however, the thickness of permafrost and its related hydrate stability zone fluctuated during geological time. It is interpreted that only in the last tens of thousand of years (i.e., Sangamonian to Holocene), conditions for hydrates changed from nonstable to stable. During Early and Late Wisconsinan and Holocene time, conditions were favorable for generation and trapping of hydrates. However, previously during Sangamonian time, less favorable conditions existed for hydrate stability. Gas release from hydrates may have occurred during times when hydrate stability was nonexistent because of permafrost melting episodes. It is interpreted that entrapment of gas in hydrate molecular structures is related to the existence of conventional structural traps as well as less permeable sediments such as the Mackenzie Bay Formation, which act as seal.