EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Distribution and fractionation of light hydrocarbons related to gas hydrate occurrence and biogenic production at Hikurangi Margin (IODP Site U1517), New Zealand

Katja Heeschen1, Stefan Schloemer2, Marta Torres3, Ann E Cook4, Liz Screation5, Aggeliki Georgiopoulou6, Ingo Pecher7, Sathish Mayanna1, Phil Barnes8, Evan Solomon9, and Leah LeVay10
Katja Heeschen et al.
  • 1GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany (
  • 2Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, Hannover, Germany
  • 3Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA
  • 4Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA
  • 5University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA
  • 6University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland (now: Univ. of Brighton, England)
  • 7University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
  • 8National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research Ltd (NIWA), Wellington, New Zealand
  • 9University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  • 10IODP, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA

The investigation of the gas hydrate system and hydrocarbon distribution were targets of IODP expeditions 372 and 375 on the Hikurangi Margin offshore New Zealand. Isotopic and molecular signatures clearly indicate a biogenic signature of methane at all sites drilled along a section crossing the accretionary wedge and basin sediments. The gas void and headspace samples from depth of a few meters up to 600 m below the seafloor have varying amounts of light hydrocarbons with high amounts of methane and changing ratios of C2:C3. The best example is the high-resolution profile gained from gas voids collected at Site U1517. Drilling at U1517 reached through the creeping part of the Tuaheni Landslide Complex (TLC), the base of the slide mass, and the Bottom Simulation Reflector (BSR) just above the base of the hole. Whereas gas hydrates could not be observed macroscopically, the distribution of gas hydrates was determined by logging while drilling (LWD) and pore water data revealing the occurrence of gas hydrates at roughly 105 – 160 mbsf with elevated saturations in thin coarse-grained sediments. The application of cryo-Scanning Electric Microscopy (cryo-SEM) on samples preserved in liquid nitrogen enabled the visualization of gas hydrates.


At Site U1517 the high-resolution void sampling reveals molecular and isotopic fractionation of hydrocarbons in close relation to the gas hydrate occurrences and allows for drawing conclusions on the recent history of the gas hydrate system and absence of free gas transport from below at the site. The molecular and isotopic composition further indicates ongoing propanogenesis.

How to cite: Heeschen, K., Schloemer, S., Torres, M., Cook, A. E., Screation, L., Georgiopoulou, A., Pecher, I., Mayanna, S., Barnes, P., Solomon, E., and LeVay, L.: Distribution and fractionation of light hydrocarbons related to gas hydrate occurrence and biogenic production at Hikurangi Margin (IODP Site U1517), New Zealand, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-15046,, 2020.