Long-term evolution of the Argentinean Continental margin: implications for hydrocarbon generation, migration, leakage and climate feedback: Austral Basin, southern Argentina
Sedimentary basins constitute a quantitatively significant source and sink of greenhouse gases in both marine and terrestrial systems. Greenhouse gas emissions from underlying thermal sources and the deep biosphere make an extremely significant contribution to the carbon-cycle. At the same time, fossil energy resources continue to be the major foundation of the industrialised nations, and improved techniques for detecting sub-surface accumulations are sought.
Various seafloor features, such as mud volcanoes, pock marks and carbonate mounds, have been postulated to be associated with active hydrocarbon leakage. Despite the vast amount of work already performed on varying aspects of natural hydrocarbon seepage an integrated study involving detailed mapping of gas escape or sequestration features (mud volcanoes, pockmarks, gas chimneys and bottom simulating reflectors indicative of gas hydrates), their distribution through time, their association to heat flow anomalies or structural elements, their relationship to the hydrocarbon system as well as a characterisation of hydrocarbon generation, migration and leakage dynamics through geologic time has as yet not been performed. The Austral Basin offers ideal conditions to study basins development coupled with the occurrence of natural gas leakage through the sediments to the surface. This project intends as well to understand the potential effect of these thermogenic gas emissions on paleo- and present-day climate.