Geological setting as background for methane distribution in Holocene mud deposits, Århus Bay, Denmark

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Detailed acoustic mapping have been carried out in the Århus Bay in order to establish the general Late Weichselian and Holocene stratigraphy, and to map the gas related acoustic blanking. The mapping results show that the oldest seismic unit is glacial till, probably related to the latest glacial advance in the region. The glacial till is covered by late-glacial ice-lake clay and silt reaching a thickness of up to 10 m. In the deeper part of the bay, early Holocene organic material and peat has been recorded in a few cores. A thin seismic unit is observed, which probably represents an early Holocene lowstand period, when most of the Århus Bay was dry land. The three upper seismic units are related to the Holocene transgression of the region representing different hydrographical conditions. The lowermost unit (Marine unit 1) partly drapes the basin area with clay sediments and partly shows prograding sandy coastal deposits around glacial ridges. Marine shells from this unit date back to 8700 cal. years BP which are the oldest marine shells found south of the threshold in the northern Great Belt. The next unit (Marine unit 2) consists in general of mud to sandy mud, which cover most of the western central part of the Århus Bay and in some places reach the present seabed in areas of erosion or non-deposition. The distribution of the youngest seismic unit (mud, Marine unit 3) is confined to the sub-recent to recent sedimentation basins in the eastern central part of the area. Acoustical blanking shows that the methane production takes place in the Holocene marine sediments. A map of the distribution and depth to free methane in the muddy sediments has been produced. Combined information from the different seismic equipment used allowed a mapping of the distribution and depth to free gas in the intervals 0.5-2, 2-4 and >4 m. The map shows that acoustic blanking is found in the central part of Århus Bay about 4 m below the seabed. In areas with high sedimentation rate, the acoustic blanking is found closer to the sediment surface and in selected key stations, pore-water chemistry have documented that depth to acoustical blanking is comparable to the methane saturation depth. Barotropic induced inflow dominates the present current system in the semi-enclosed Århus Bay. The inflow events create turbulence in the outer eastern parts of the bay, followed by high sedimentation rates. The recent situation is reflected in the seabed sediments in the eastern part of the bay, which are characterised as soft sandy mud deposits, with gas bubbles close to the seabed. Seismic investigations have not previously been used to identify recent sedimentation areas and the most vulnerable areas in respect to possible escape of methane and toxic hydrogen-sulphide. The results of the present survey show that future monitoring must be focused in shallow gas areas in the eastern-most part of Århus Bay.

Sider (fra-til)775-784
Antal sider10
TidsskriftContinental Shelf Research
Udgave nummer5-6
StatusUdgivet - 30 mar. 2009


  • Programområde 5: Natur og klima


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