Characterization of Methane Hydrate Host Sediments Using Synchrotron-Computed Microtomography (CMT)

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The hydrate-sediment interaction is an important aspect of gas hydrate studies that needs further examination. We describe here the applicability of the computed microtomography (CMT) technique that utilizes an intense X-ray synchrotron source to characterize sediment samples, two at various depths from the Blake Ridge area (a well-known hydrate-prone region) and one from Georges Bank, that once contained methane trapped as hydrates. Detailed results of the tomographic analysis performed on the deepest sample (667 m) from Blake Ridge are presented as 2-D and 3-D images which show several mineral constituents, the internal grain/pore microstructure, and, following segmentation into pore and grain space, a visualization of the connecting pathways through the pore-space of the sediment. Various parameters obtained from the analysis of the CMT data are presented for all three sediment samples. The micro-scale porosity values showed decreasing trend with increasing depth for all three samples that is consistent with the previously reported bulk porosity data. The 3-D morphology, pore-space pathways, porosity, and permeability values are also reported for all three samples. The application of CMT is now being expanded to the laboratory-formed samples of hydrate in sediments as well as field samples of methane hydrate bearing sediments.



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