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Open AccessArticle

Role of Warming in Destabilization of Intrapermafrost Gas Hydrates in the Arctic Shelf: Experimental Modeling

1
Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), 121205 Moscow, Russia
2
GSP-1, Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU), 119991 Moscow, Russia
3
National Research Tomsk Polytechnic University, Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU), 634050 Tomsk, Russia
4
International Arctic Research Center, University Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775, USA
5
Pacific Oceanological Institute, Far Eastern Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, 690041 Vladivostok, Russia
6
Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, 141701 Moscow Region, Russia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Geosciences 2019, 9(10), 407; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences9100407
Received: 2 September 2019 / Revised: 16 September 2019 / Accepted: 18 September 2019 / Published: 20 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gas Hydrate: Environmental and Climate Impacts)
Destabilization of intrapermafrost gas hydrates is one of the possible mechanisms responsible for methane emission in the Arctic shelf. Intrapermafrost gas hydrates may be coeval to permafrost: they originated during regression and subsequent cooling and freezing of sediments, which created favorable conditions for hydrate stability. Local pressure increase in freezing gas-saturated sediments maintained gas hydrate stability from depths of 200–250 m or shallower. The gas hydrates that formed within shallow permafrost have survived till present in the metastable (relict) state. The metastable gas hydrates located above the present stability zone may dissociate in the case of permafrost degradation as it becomes warmer and more saline. The effect of temperature increase on frozen sand and silt containing metastable pore methane hydrate is studied experimentally to reconstruct the conditions for intrapermafrost gas hydrate dissociation. The experiments show that the dissociation process in hydrate-bearing frozen sediments exposed to warming begins and ends before the onset of pore ice melting. The critical temperature sufficient for gas hydrate dissociation varies from −3.0 °C to −0.3 °C and depends on lithology (particle size) and salinity of the host frozen sediments. Taking into account an almost gradientless temperature distribution during degradation of subsea permafrost, even minor temperature increases can be expected to trigger large-scale dissociation of intrapermafrost hydrates. The ensuing active methane emission from the Arctic shelf sediments poses risks of geohazard and negative environmental impacts. View Full-Text
Keywords: Arctic shelf; permafrost; gas hydrate; temperature increase; hydrate dissociation; methane emission; environmental impact; geohazard Arctic shelf; permafrost; gas hydrate; temperature increase; hydrate dissociation; methane emission; environmental impact; geohazard
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Chuvilin, E.; Davletshina, D.; Ekimova, V.; Bukhanov, B.; Shakhova, N.; Semiletov, I. Role of Warming in Destabilization of Intrapermafrost Gas Hydrates in the Arctic Shelf: Experimental Modeling. Geosciences 2019, 9, 407.

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