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Hydrate Formation on Marine Seep Bubbles and the Implications for Water Column Methane Dissolution

Fu, X. and Waite, W. F. and Ruppel, C. D. (2021) Hydrate Formation on Marine Seep Bubbles and the Implications for Water Column Methane Dissolution. Journal of Geophysical Research. Oceans, 126 (9). Art. No. e2021JC017363. ISSN 2169-9275. doi:10.1029/2021jc017363.

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Methane released from seafloor seeps contributes to a number of benthic, water column, and atmospheric processes. At seafloor seeps within the methane hydrate stability zone, crystalline gas hydrate shells can form on methane bubbles while the bubbles are still in contact with the seafloor or as the bubbles begin ascending through the water column. These shells reduce methane dissolution rates, allowing hydrate-coated bubbles to deliver methane to shallower depths in the water column than hydrate-free bubbles. Here, we analyze seafloor videos from six deepwater seep sites associated with a diverse range of bubble-release processes involving hydrate formation. Bubbles that grow rapidly are often hydrate-free when released from the seafloor. As bubble growth slows and seafloor residence time increases, a hydrate coating can form on the bubble's gas-water interface, fully coating most bubbles within ∼10 s of the onset of hydrate formation at the seafloor. This finding agrees with water-column observations that most bubbles become hydrate-coated after their initial ∼150 cm of rise, which takes about 10 s. Whether a bubble is coated or not at the seafloor affects how much methane a bubble contains and how quickly that methane dissolves during the bubble's rise through the water column. A simplified model shows that, after rising 150 cm above the seafloor, a bubble that grew a hydrate shell before releasing from the seafloor will have ∼5% more methane than a bubble of initial equal volume that did not grow a hydrate shell after it traveled to the same height.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Fu, X.0000-0001-7120-704X
Waite, W. F.0000-0002-9436-4109
Ruppel, C. D.0000-0003-2284-6632
Additional Information:© 2021. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Issue Online: 15 September 2021; Version of Record online: 15 September 2021; Accepted manuscript online: 01 September 2021; Manuscript accepted: 11 August 2021; Manuscript revised: 14 July 2021; Manuscript received: 15 March 2021. X. Fu acknowledges support from the Miller Fellowship during her time at U.C. Berkeley. W. Waite and C. Ruppel are supported by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Coastal/Marine Hazards and Resources Program and the Energy Resources Program, with research conducted under USGS-Department of Energy interagency agreements DE-FE0023495 and 89243320SFE000013. This work benefited from NOAA's office of Ocean Exploration and Research, through research related to NOAA-USGS Interagency Agreement 16-0118 and the opportunities C. Ruppel was given to participate remotely in ROV dives on the United States Atlantic and GOM margins in 2013, 2014, and 2017. The authors thank S. Socolofsky and B. Wang for their assistance with the MC118 and GC600 data. They also thank A. Padilla and anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments that improved this article. Any use of trade, firm, or product name is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the United States Government. Data Availability Statement: The Supporting Information S1 contains NOAA-OER seafloor video links. All other data used to produce the analysis in Figures 8, 12 and 14-16 are available on the Zenodo repository:
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Miller Institute for Basic Research in ScienceUNSPECIFIED
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-FE0023495
Department of Energy (DOE)89243320SFE000013
Subject Keywords:gas and hydrate systems; oceanography: biological and chemical; carbon cycling; biogeochemical cycles, processes, and modeling
Issue or Number:9
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210930-223638984
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Official Citation:Fu, X., Waite, W. F., & Ruppel, C. D. (2021). Hydrate formation on marine seep bubbles and the implications for water column methane dissolution. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 126, e2021JC017363.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:111147
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:04 Oct 2021 20:43
Last Modified:04 Oct 2021 20:43

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