Special Issue "Gas Emissions and Crater Formation in Arctic Permafrost"

A special issue of Geosciences (ISSN 2076-3263).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 October 2020) | Viewed by 64232

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Evgeny Chuvilin
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Center for Hydrocarbon Recovery, Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), Skolkovo Innovation Center, 3 Nobel Street, Moscow 121205, Russia
Interests: permafrost; natural gas hydrate; Arctic, freezing sediments; hydrate formation and decomposition in sediments; experimental modeling; properties of frozen and hydrate bearing sediments; ice formation; heat and mass transfer in freezing and frozen sediments; gas in permafrost; structure of frozen soils; contaminations in freezing soils; methane emission in Arctic
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue of Geosciences aims to gather original research articles and reviews dedicated to the problems of generation, migration, accumulation, and emission of natural gas in the permafrost of the Arctic coast and the Arctic shelf. This also includes studies of the occurrence of pressure processes and the formation of new positive and negative landforms on the surface of the permafrost zone associated with the accumulation and emission of natural gases.

Permafrost, both on the coast and in the shelf zone of the Arctic, is a natural reservoir that accumulates a large amount of natural gases, mainly methane. Today, the study of the gas component of frozen sediments, its gas permeability, as well as gas occurrences from frozen strata, is especially important in connection with the discussion about possible climatic changes on a planetary scale (global warming, an increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, etc.).

Therefore, I would like to invite you to submit articles about your recent work, field, experimental or case studies in relation to the above and/or the following topics:

  • Gas generation and migration in the permafrost zone;
  • Gas emission from the frozen strata of the Arctic coast and the Arctic shelf;
  • Sources of gas and gas emissions in the Arctic;
  • The role of climate change in the decomposition of gas hydrates and gas emissions in the Arctic;
  • Cryogenic gas concentration, pressure and explosive processes in permafrost;
  • Gas emission craters in permafrost.

Assoc. Prof. Evgeny Chuvilin
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • Arctic permafrost
  • Arctic shelf
  • gas migration and gas accumulation
  • gas hydrates
  • gas emission
  • crater formation

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Gas Emission and Formation of Craters in the Arctic Permafrost Synopsis
Geosciences 2022, 12(2), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences12020046 - 18 Jan 2022
Viewed by 589
Abstract
This Special Issue of Geosciences is a collection of twelve research and overview papers devoted to shallow Arctic permafrost as a natural reservoir that stores large amounts of bound gas, mainly methane [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gas Emissions and Crater Formation in Arctic Permafrost)

Research

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Article
New Catastrophic Gas Blowout and Giant Crater on the Yamal Peninsula in 2020: Results of the Expedition and Data Processing
Geosciences 2021, 11(2), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences11020071 - 08 Feb 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 19906
Abstract
This article describes the results of an Arctic expedition studying the new giant gas blowout crater in the north of Western Siberia, in the central part of the Yamal Peninsula in 2020. It was named C17 in the geoinformation system “Arctic and the [...] Read more.
This article describes the results of an Arctic expedition studying the new giant gas blowout crater in the north of Western Siberia, in the central part of the Yamal Peninsula in 2020. It was named C17 in the geoinformation system “Arctic and the World Ocean” created by the Oil and Gas Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (OGRI RAS). On the basis of remote sensing, it can be seen that the formation of the crater C17 was preceded by a long-term growth of the perennial heaving mound (PHM) on the surface of the third marine terrace. Based on the interpretation of satellite images, it was substantiated that the crater C17 was formed in the period 15 May–9 June 2020. For the first time, as a result of aerial photography from inside the crater with a UAV, a 3D model of the crater and a giant cavity in the ground ice, formed during its thawing from below, was built. The accumulation of gas, the pressure rise and the development of gas-dynamic processes in the cavity led to the growth of the PHM, and the explosion and formation of the crater. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gas Emissions and Crater Formation in Arctic Permafrost)
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Article
Detecting and Mapping Gas Emission Craters on the Yamal and Gydan Peninsulas, Western Siberia
Geosciences 2021, 11(1), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences11010021 - 01 Jan 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 12099
Abstract
Rapid climate warming at northern high latitudes is driving geomorphic changes across the permafrost zone. In the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas in western Siberia, subterranean accumulation of methane beneath or within ice-rich permafrost can create mounds at the land surface. Once over-pressurized by [...] Read more.
Rapid climate warming at northern high latitudes is driving geomorphic changes across the permafrost zone. In the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas in western Siberia, subterranean accumulation of methane beneath or within ice-rich permafrost can create mounds at the land surface. Once over-pressurized by methane, these mounds can explode and eject frozen ground, forming a gas emission crater (GEC). While GECs pose a hazard to human populations and infrastructure, only a small number have been identified in the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas, where the regional distribution and frequency of GECs and other types of land surface change are relatively unconstrained. To understand the distribution of landscape change within 327,000 km2 of the Yamal-Gydan region, we developed a semi-automated multivariate change detection algorithm using satellite-derived surface reflectance, elevation, and water extent in the Google Earth Engine cloud computing platform. We found that 5% of the landscape changed from 1984 to 2017. The algorithm detected all seven GECs reported in the scientific literature and three new GEC-like features, and further revealed that retrogressive thaw slumps were more abundant than GECs. Our methodology can be refined to detect and better understand diverse types of land surface change and potentially mitigate risks across the northern permafrost zone. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gas Emissions and Crater Formation in Arctic Permafrost)
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Article
Factors Affecting the Formation and Evolution of Permafrost and Stability Zone of Gas Hydrates: Case Study of the Laptev Sea
Geosciences 2020, 10(12), 504; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10120504 - 18 Dec 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 843
Abstract
The key factors controlling the formation and dynamics of relicpermafrost and the conditions for the stability of associated gas hydrates have been investigated using numerical modeling in this work. A comparison was made between two scenarios that differed in the length of freezing [...] Read more.
The key factors controlling the formation and dynamics of relicpermafrost and the conditions for the stability of associated gas hydrates have been investigated using numerical modeling in this work. A comparison was made between two scenarios that differed in the length of freezing periods and corresponding temperature shifts to assess the impact on the evolution of the permafrost–hydrate system and to predict its distribution and geometry. The simulation setup included the specific heat of gas hydrate formation and ice melting. Significantly, it was shown that the paleoscenario and heat flows affect the formation of permafrost and the conditions for gas hydrate stability. In the Laptev Sea, the minimum and maximum predicted preservation times for permafrost are 9 and 36.6 kyr, respectively, whereas the presence of conditions consistent with methane hydrate stability at the maximum permafrost thickness is possible for another 25.9 kyr. The main factors influencing the rate of permafrost degradation are the heat flow and porosity of frozen sediments. The rates of permafrost thawing are estimated to be between 1 and 3 cm/yr. It is revealed that the presence of gas hydrates slows the thawing of the permafrost and feeds back to prolong the conditions under which gas hydrates are stable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gas Emissions and Crater Formation in Arctic Permafrost)
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Article
Methane and Dissolved Organic Matter in the Ground Ice Samples from Central Yamal: Implications to Biogeochemical Cycling and Greenhouse Gas Emission
Geosciences 2020, 10(11), 450; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10110450 - 10 Nov 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1003
Abstract
Permafrost thawing leads to mobilization of the vast carbon pool into modern biogeochemical cycling through the enhanced release of dissolved organic matter (DOM) and production of greenhouse gases (CO2 and CH4). In this work, we focus on the study of [...] Read more.
Permafrost thawing leads to mobilization of the vast carbon pool into modern biogeochemical cycling through the enhanced release of dissolved organic matter (DOM) and production of greenhouse gases (CO2 and CH4). In this work, we focus on the study of methane and DOM distribution and genesis in the ground ice samples of thermodenudational exposure in the Central Yamal (Russian Arctic). We propose that the liberation of the ice-trapped CH4 and generation of CO2 by DOM mineralization are the earliest factors of atmospheric greenhouse gases emission as a result of permafrost thawing. The observed enormously “light ” isotope signatures of methane (δ13C < −80‰, δD < −390‰) found in the tabular ground ice units significantly divergent in morphology and localization within the exposuremay be related to subzero (cryogenic) carbonate reduction a as significant factor of the local methane enrichment. DOM is mainly formed (>88%) by biochemically refractory humic acids. Distribution of the labile protein-like DOM reflects the specific features of carbon and nitrogen cycles in the tabular ground ice and ice wedge samples. Tabular ground ice units are shown to be a significant source of methane and high quality organic matter as well as dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN). Ice wedges express a high variation in DOM composition and lability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gas Emissions and Crater Formation in Arctic Permafrost)
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Communication
Seismogenic-Triggering Mechanism of Gas Emission Activizations on the Arctic Shelf and Associated Phases of Abrupt Warming
Geosciences 2020, 10(11), 428; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10110428 - 29 Oct 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 5943
Abstract
A seismogenic trigger mechanism is proposed to explain the abrupt climate warming phases in the Arctic as a result of strong mechanical disturbances in the marginal region of the Arctic lithosphere. Those disturbances might have been caused by great earthquakes in the Aleutian [...] Read more.
A seismogenic trigger mechanism is proposed to explain the abrupt climate warming phases in the Arctic as a result of strong mechanical disturbances in the marginal region of the Arctic lithosphere. Those disturbances might have been caused by great earthquakes in the Aleutian subduction zone, and slowly propagated across the Arctic shelf and adjacent regions, triggering the methane release from permafrost and metastable gas hydrates, followed by greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. The proposed mechanism is based on the identified correlation between the series of the great earthquakes in the Aleutian island arc, which occurred in the early and middle of the 20th century, and the two phases of sharp climate warming, which began in 1920 and 1980. There is a 20-year time lag between these events, which is explained by the time of arrival of deformation waves in the lithosphere (propagating with a velocity of about 100 km per year) at the Arctic shelf and adjacent land from the Aleutian subduction zone, the region of their generation. The trigger mechanism causing the methane release from permafrost and metastable gas hydrates is related to the destruction of micro-sized ice films covering gas hydrate particles, the elements highly important for hydrate self-preservation, as well as destruction of gas-saturated micropores in permafrost rocks due to the slight additional stresses associated with deformation waves, and thus emergence of conditions favorable for gas filtration and its subsequent emission. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gas Emissions and Crater Formation in Arctic Permafrost)
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Article
Methane Content and Emission in the Permafrost Landscapes of Western Yamal, Russian Arctic
Geosciences 2020, 10(10), 412; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10100412 - 14 Oct 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1330
Abstract
We present the results of studies of the methane content in soils of the active layer and underlying permafrost, as well as data on the emission of methane into the atmosphere in the dominant landscapes of typical tundra of the western coast of [...] Read more.
We present the results of studies of the methane content in soils of the active layer and underlying permafrost, as well as data on the emission of methane into the atmosphere in the dominant landscapes of typical tundra of the western coast of the Yamal Peninsula. A detailed landscape map of the study area was compiled, the dominant types of landscapes were determined, and vegetation cover was described. We determined that a high methane content is characteristic of the wet landscapes: peat bogs within the floodplains, water tracks, and lake basins. Average values of the methane content in the active layer for such landscapes varied from 2.4 to 3.5 mL (CH4)/kg, with a maximum of 9.0 mL (CH4)/kg. The distribution of methane in studied sections is characterized by an increase in its concentration with depth. This confirms the diffuse mechanism of methane transport in the active layer and emission of methane into the atmosphere. The transition zone of the upper permafrost contains 2.5–5-times more methane than the active layer and may become a significant source of methane during the anticipated permafrost degradation. Significant fluxes of methane into the atmosphere of 2.6 mg (CH4) * m−2 * h−1 are characteristic of the flooded landscapes of peat bogs, water tracks, and lake basins, which occupy approximately 45% of the typical tundra area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gas Emissions and Crater Formation in Arctic Permafrost)
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Article
Sonar Estimation of Methane Bubble Flux from Thawing Subsea Permafrost: A Case Study from the Laptev Sea Shelf
Geosciences 2020, 10(10), 411; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10100411 - 14 Oct 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1366
Abstract
Seeps found offshore in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf may mark zones of degrading subsea permafrost and related destabilization of gas hydrates. Sonar surveys provide an effective tool for mapping seabed methane fluxes and monitoring subsea Arctic permafrost seepage. The paper presents an [...] Read more.
Seeps found offshore in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf may mark zones of degrading subsea permafrost and related destabilization of gas hydrates. Sonar surveys provide an effective tool for mapping seabed methane fluxes and monitoring subsea Arctic permafrost seepage. The paper presents an overview of existing approaches to sonar estimation of methane bubble flux from the sea floor to the water column and a new method for quantifying CH4 ebullition. In the suggested method, the flux of methane bubbles is estimated from its response to insonification using the backscattering cross section. The method has demonstrated its efficiency in the case study of single- and multi-beam acoustic surveys of a large seep field on the Laptev Sea shelf. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gas Emissions and Crater Formation in Arctic Permafrost)
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Article
Complex of Geophysical Studies of the Seyakha Catastrophic Gas Blowout Crater on the Yamal Peninsula, Russian Arctic
Geosciences 2020, 10(6), 215; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10060215 - 03 Jun 2020
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 2755
Abstract
This article describes the main results of two Arctic expeditions in 2017–2018 to study the Seyakha Crater in the north of Western Siberia, Yamal Peninsula. It was formed on a place of a pingo-like feature (PLF) by huge blowout, self-ignition, and explosion of [...] Read more.
This article describes the main results of two Arctic expeditions in 2017–2018 to study the Seyakha Crater in the north of Western Siberia, Yamal Peninsula. It was formed on a place of a pingo-like feature (PLF) by huge blowout, self-ignition, and explosion of gas on 28 June 2017. In 2018, for the first time, the integration of geophysical studies on the Yamal Peninsula revealed in detail an Arctic gas-blowout crater within a river channel and adjacent land with permafrost. On the basis of unmanned aerial vehicle photography, echo sounding, and ground penetrating radar survey data processing, a 3D digital elevation model (DEM) of the crater and the structure of near-surface deposits was created. A previously unknown uplift inside the permafrost layers, probably connected with the processes of gas chamber formation, was revealed. A long period of continuous gas emission (mainly, biogenic methane) from the Seyakha C11 Crater (2017–2019) and other existing data show evidence for a gas-dynamic mechanism of the PLF growth and a volcanic type of eruption. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gas Emissions and Crater Formation in Arctic Permafrost)
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Article
Conceptual Models of Gas Accumulation in the Shallow Permafrost of Northern West Siberia and Conditions for Explosive Gas Emissions
Geosciences 2020, 10(5), 195; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10050195 - 22 May 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 6718
Abstract
Gas accumulation and pressurized unfrozen rocks under lakes (sublake taliks) subject to freezing in shallow permafrost may lead to explosive gas emissions and the formation of craters. Gas inputs into taliks may have several sources: microbially-mediated recycling of organic matter, dissociation of intrapermafrost [...] Read more.
Gas accumulation and pressurized unfrozen rocks under lakes (sublake taliks) subject to freezing in shallow permafrost may lead to explosive gas emissions and the formation of craters. Gas inputs into taliks may have several sources: microbially-mediated recycling of organic matter, dissociation of intrapermafrost gas hydrates, and migration of subpermafrost and deep gases through permeable zones in a deformed crust. The cryogenic concentration of gas increases the pore pressure in the freezing gas-saturated talik. The gradual pressure buildup within the confined talik causes creep (ductile) deformation of the overlying permafrost and produces a mound on the surface. As the pore pressure in the freezing talik surpasses the permafrost strength, the gas-water-soil mixture of the talik erupts explosively and a crater forms where the mound was. The critical pressure in the confined gas-saturated talik (2–2.5 MPa for methane) corresponds to the onset of gas hydrate formation. The conditions of gas accumulation and excess pressure in freezing closed taliks in shallow permafrost, which may be responsible for explosive gas emissions and the formation of craters, are described by several models. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gas Emissions and Crater Formation in Arctic Permafrost)
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Article
Natural Gas Liberations around Production Wells at Russian Arctic Gas Fields
Geosciences 2020, 10(5), 184; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10050184 - 15 May 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1177
Abstract
Gas samples from gas liberations around wellheads on two giant natural gas fields in West Siberia (Bovanenkovo and Yamburg) have been tested for their carbon isotopic and molecular compositions. Results have shown local, microbial genesis of gas and that its source is permafrost [...] Read more.
Gas samples from gas liberations around wellheads on two giant natural gas fields in West Siberia (Bovanenkovo and Yamburg) have been tested for their carbon isotopic and molecular compositions. Results have shown local, microbial genesis of gas and that its source is permafrost at both gas fields. Gas liberation is caused by permafrost rock massif thawing around working well. Gas liberations can appear at different distances from the casing inside the radius of thawing. Two gas samples taken from gas liberations at casing border have shown thermogenic origin, which was explained by deep gas leakage through the casing. Gas liberations from deep production horizons are few, and they concentrate around the casing. Permafrost gas liberations are numerous, and they are spread at different distances from the wellhead. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gas Emissions and Crater Formation in Arctic Permafrost)
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Article
A Gas-Emission Crater in the Erkuta River Valley, Yamal Peninsula: Characteristics and Potential Formation Model
Geosciences 2020, 10(5), 170; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10050170 - 08 May 2020
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 6650
Abstract
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, and the abrupt degassing events that recently have formed large craters on the Russian Arctic Yamal and Gydan Peninsulas have caused major concern. Here we present field data on cover sediments and evolution of a gas-emission crater [...] Read more.
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, and the abrupt degassing events that recently have formed large craters on the Russian Arctic Yamal and Gydan Peninsulas have caused major concern. Here we present field data on cover sediments and evolution of a gas-emission crater discovered in the Erkuta–Yakha River valley in the southern Yamal Peninsula in June 2017. The crater is located south of other similar craters discovered over the past decade in northern West Siberia. Data were collected during a field trip to the Erkuta crater in December 2017 which included field observations and sampling of permafrost soil and ground ice from the rim of the crater. All soil and ice samples were measured for contents of methane and its homologs (ethane and propane) and carbon dioxide. The contents of carbon dioxide in some samples are notably higher than methane. The strongly negative δ13С of methane from ground ice samples (−72‰) is typical of biogenic hydrocarbons. The ratio of methane to the total amount of its homologs indicate a component of gases that have migrated from a deeper, thermogenic source. Based on obtained results, a potential formation model for Erkuta gas-emission crater is proposed, which considers the combined effect of deep-seated (deep gas migration) and shallow (oxbow lake evolution and closed talik freezing) causes. This model includes several stages from geological prerequisites to the lake formation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gas Emissions and Crater Formation in Arctic Permafrost)
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Review

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Review
Evidence of Gas Emissions from Permafrost in the Russian Arctic
Geosciences 2020, 10(10), 383; https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10100383 - 24 Sep 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2444
Abstract
The active emission of gas (mainly methane) from terrestrial and subsea permafrost in the Russian Arctic has been confirmed by ample evidence. In this paper, a generalization and some systematization of gas manifestations recorded in the Russian Arctic is carried out. The published [...] Read more.
The active emission of gas (mainly methane) from terrestrial and subsea permafrost in the Russian Arctic has been confirmed by ample evidence. In this paper, a generalization and some systematization of gas manifestations recorded in the Russian Arctic is carried out. The published data on most typical gas emission cases have been summarized in a table and illustrated by a map. The tabulated data include location, signatures, and possible sources of each gas show, with respective references. All events of onshore and shelf gas release are divided into natural and man-caused. and the natural ones are further classified as venting from lakes or explosive emissions in dryland conditions that produce craters on the surface. Among natural gas shows on land, special attention is paid to the emission of natural gas from Arctic lakes, as well as gas emissions with craters formation. In addition, a description of the observed man-caused gas manifestations associated with the drilling of geotechnical and production wells in the Arctic region is given. The reported evidence demonstrates the effect of permafrost degradation on gas release, especially in oil and gas fields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gas Emissions and Crater Formation in Arctic Permafrost)
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