Seabed gas emissions and submarine landslides off SW Taiwan

  • Author(s): Shu-Kun Hsu, Shiao-Shan Lin, Shiou-Ya Wang, Ching-Hui Tsai, Wen-Bin Doo, Song-Chuen Chen, Jing-Yi Lin, Yi-Ching Yeh, Hsueh-Fen Wang, and Cheng-Wei Su
  • DOI: 10.3319/TAO.2016.10.04.01
  • Keywords: Gas seeps, Gas plume, Mud volcano, Gas hydrate, Submarine landslide
  • Gas emissions off SW Taiwan are distributed at crests of mud diapiric ridges
  • Active mud volcanoes and gas seeps off SW Taiwan display clustering phenomenon
  • The concentrated gas emissions are ascribed to a steep slope of BSR curve
Abstract

Methane emissions out of the seabed could seriously affect Earth’s climate and are usually associated with the dissociation of gas hydrates stored in marine sedi­ments on the continental margins. Spatially, gas emissions out of the seafloor are not evenly distributed in continental margins. Gas emissions out of the seabed generally occur through submarine mud volcanoes and gas seeps. To understand the seabed gas emissions off SW Taiwan, we investigate the distributions of active submarine mud volcanoes, gas seeps, and gas plumes off SW Taiwan. We examine all of the available sub-bottom profiler and EK echo sounder data. We identified 19 submarine mud volcanoes, 220 gas seeps, and 295 gas plumes. The gas emissions are generally distributed at the crests of mud diapiric ridges. Most of the active mud volcanoes and gas seeps cluster at the KASMVG (Kaoping submarine mud volcanoes group) area. We speculate that the intensive mud volcanism and gas seepage at the KASMVG area are ascribed to submarine channel erosion along the continental slope base. The ero­sion causes a deep V-shaped channel and a steep BSR (Bottom-Simulating Reflector) slope curve across the continental margin. The upward migration rate of free gas be­neath the BSR is thus increased and intensifies mud volcanism and gas seepage at the KASMVG area. The gas seeps can reduce the slope stability and generate small-scale slides. The development of mud volcanoes in an area could effectively disturb the seabed morphology so that large-scale submarine landslides cannot easily happen.

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