Much research has been published regarding the relation between major gas hydrate accumulations and the global carbon cycle. In this context, the determination of the sulfate/methane interface (SMI) depth is of primary importance in order to understand the dynamics of methane flux in the shallow section. This paper identifies the depth of the SMI in sediments based on sulfate and methane concentration profiles in cores recovered in the Rio Grande Cone Gas Hydrate Province, Pelotas Basin, southern Brazil. The shape of methane and sulfate concentration profiles in the sediments can be linked to the local methane flux rate as follows: (i) near linear, high upward-diffusing methane flux coupled with high sulfate diffusion from seawater; (ii) irregular, variable methane flux rates; and (iii) kink-type profile, which is indicative of variable rather than strictly high upward methane flux. The areas in which a high methane flux was identified are spatially associated with gas chimneys in sediments within pockmarks, whereas profiles with low methane flux are present in adjacent areas. These chimneys appear as acoustic blankings in seismic records and can therefore be mapped in subsurface. The wavy-like seismic reflection following the SMI coincides with the occurrence of authigenic carbonate nodules and concretions. In addition, high methane fluxes and the occurrence of concretions and nodules carbonates were correlated by stratigraphic position of the concretions bearing intervals and sulfate profiles.
gas hydrate; methane flux; Rio Grande Cone; Brazil