A shallow gas depth-contour map covering the Skagerrak-western Baltic Sea region has been constructed using a relatively dense grid of existing shallow seismic lines. The digital map is stored as an ESRI® shape file in order to facilitate comparison with other data from the region. Free gas usually occurs in mud and sandy mud but is observed only when sediment thickness exceeds a certain threshold value, depending on the water depth of the area in question. Gassy sediments exist at all water depths from approx. 20 m in the coastal waters of the Kattegat to 360 m in the Skagerrak. In spite of the large difference in water depths, the depth of free gas below seabed varies only little within the region, indicating a relatively fast movement of methane in the gas phase towards the seabed compared to the rate of diffusion of dissolved methane. Seeps of old microbial methane occur in the northern Kattegat where a relatively thin cover of sandy sediments exists over shallow, glacially deformed Pleistocene marine sediments. Previous estimates of total methane escape from the area may be correct but the extrapolation of local methane seepage rate data to much larger areas on the continental shelf is probably not justified. Preliminary data on porewater chemistry were compared with the free gas depth contours in the Aarhus Bay area, which occasionally suffers from oxygen deficiency, in order to examine if acoustic gas mapping may be used for monitoring the condition of the bay.
- Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate