Role of warming in destabilization of intrapermafrost gas hydrates in the arctic shelf: Experimental modeling

Evgeny Chuvilin, Dinara Davletshina, Valentina Ekimova, Boris Bukhanov, Natalia Shakhova, Igor Semiletov

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    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 gassaturated sediments maintained gas hydrate stability from depths of 200-250 meters 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 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.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number407
    JournalGeosciences (Switzerland)
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


    • Arctic shelf
    • Environmental impact
    • Gas hydrate
    • Geohazard
    • Hydrate dissociation
    • Methane emission
    • Permafrost
    • Temperature increase


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