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QIU Zhongyan, HAN Xiqiu, WANG Yejian. Methane seepages in the northern South China Sea: evidence from in situ measurements[J]. Journal of Oceanology and Limnology, 2018, 36(5): 1556-1561

Methane seepages in the northern South China Sea: evidence from in situ measurements

QIU Zhongyan, HAN Xiqiu, WANG Yejian
Key Laboratory of Submarine Geosciences, Second Institute of Oceanography, State Oceanic Administration, Hangzhou 310012, China
Continental margins in world oceans contain large amounts of marine gas hydrates. Changes in the temperature and pressure of sediment may destabilize the methane hydrate, leading to its release and seepage into the sea. This process would increase the dissolved methane in the ambient seawater. In this study, a methane sensor was used to detect methane anomalies in the water column in southwestern Dongsha and Shenhu, northern slope of the South China Sea. Methane plumes were detected at stations SCS001 and T001 in the southwestern Dongsha area, and station SCS002 in the Shenhu area, respectively. The maximum methane concentrations were 8.8 nmol/L in southwestern Dongsha and 10.1 nmol/L in Shenhu, which are about 4-5 times higher than the background methane concentration. This indicates that there are active methane seepages present in both the southwestern Dongsha and Shenhu areas, which are likely related to a methane hydrate reservoir beneath the seafloor. A methane sensor with a low detection limit is a practical instrument with which to detect methane plumes in oceanic environments and to monitor methane leakage from the seafloor.
Key words:    northern slope of the South China Sea|methane leakage|in situ measurement|methane sensor   
Received: 2017-04-14   Revised:
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