February 18, 2010
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Home / Issue Archive / 2010 / January #1 / Research History of Lake Baikal Gas Hydrates (Part 2)

№ 1 (January 2010)

Research History of Lake Baikal Gas Hydrates (Part 2)

   The second technological expedition “Baikal Hydrates 2009” visited the lake on June 24-28, 2009. The expedition was headed by Gazprom VNIIGAZ deputy general directors Anatoly Alisov and Dmitry Lyugai.

By Roman Samsonov, Dmitry Lyugai, Yelena Perlova, Valery Kvon, Sergei Leonov, Natalya Makhonina, Oleg Khlystov

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   The expedition was tasked with a wider range of assignments: continuing the research of sub-bed gas hydrates, started in 2008 by the first expedition, which used the Vereschagin research ship for sampling; implementation of the unique full-scale diving program using Mir deepwater manned vehicles for studying the hydrate field of the Malenky underwater volcano, lake bed morphology and sampling, experiments on modeling soil behavior in deepwater conditions, with load impact from underwater pipelines.

   The 2009 expedition included two days on-water. During the voyage, Vereschagin science ship took four sub-bed hydrate-bearing samples from the depth of 1,320 meters. The team completed full complex of primary petrographic study, as well as selection and conservation of samples for future lab research. For the first time, jointly with Evgeny Chuvilin, associate professor of geocryology at Moscow State University and one of the leading Russian experts on gas hydrates, the expedition obtained thermal characteristic of Baikal’s hydrate-bearing samples using the unique analyzer of thermal properties KD-2Pro. Gas samples from pure gas-hydrate and hydrate-bearing soil for chromatography and isotopic analysis.

   The results of the hydrate gas analysis are shown in Tables 1 and 2.
Hydrate gas of Malenky volcano consists of biochemical methane (by deviation of the accepted standard ratio of heavy carbon isotope to light) genesis with traces of nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Also, the gas samples contain traces of ethane, several promille, which could mean the mixed – catagenetic and biochemical – genesis of hydrate gas.

   Apart from sampling and study of hydrate-bearing drill core, the Vereschagin research ship used GPS navigator for reconnaissance of Malenky mud volcano aiming to find the place for submersion of Mir underwater manned vehicle.

   The second day was dedicated to the complex program of deepwater research of Lake Baikal using the Mir manned vehicle. Having left the base in the village of Listvyanka, the expedition on the Akademik Kaptyug ship escorted the Metropoliya barge, which transported the deepwater manned vehicle to the submersion point.

   The submersion on “Mir” vehicle down to the depth of 1,330 meters to the Baikal bed in the vicinity of Malenky mud volcano was done by two teams. The team of Mir-1 deepwater manned vehicle included Yelena Perlova (Gazprom VNIIGAZ), Alexander Yegorov (Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Science), and pilot Viktor Nischeta. The team of Mir-2 deepwater manned vehicle included Sergei Leonov (Gazprom VNIIGAZ), Yelena Zaitseva (LIN SO RAN), and pilot, Hero of Russia, Yevgeny Chernyaev (photo).

Tasks of the Mir-1 teams included:
study of gas-hydrate field of Malenky volcano, which includes visual exploration of deep-water discharge of hydrocarbons;
mapping of fissure zones;
sampling near-bottom water, soil and fauna;
coordinate authentication of the locations for hydrate-bearing drill cores from Vereschagin science ship.  
Tasks of the Mir-2 team included:
experimental modeling of soil behavior in deep-water conditions, with load impact from underwater pipelines;
sampling near-bottom water, soil and fauna;
installation of the flag with Gazprom VNIIGAZ logo.

   Both teams had Gazprom VNIIGAZ members and successfully completed the unique program of deep-water research, currently the data is being processed.
To mark the 2008–2009 technological expeditions of Gazprom VNIIGAZ, the teams installed a flag with corporate logo of the company at the peak of mud volcano Malenky, depth 1,324 meters (latitude 51º55’07”, longitude 105º38’73”).
Research programs Baikal Hydrates 2008, 2009 by Gazprom VNIIGAZ teams provided new and unique data on hydrate content in Baikal sub-bed. This data is crucial for further exploration of natural hydrate deposits and for Gazprom targets in East Siberian region and shelf locations, to ensure industrial safety of engineering structures of the gas industry.

   If Gazprom initiates large-scale program of gas-hydrate research, Gazprom VNIIGAZ could use the results of the research during the two Baikal expeditions to develop and coordinate the project on studying underwater natural gas hydrates at other locations within Gazprom’s area of operation (the Sea of Okhotsk and the Black Sea).

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17.    Khlystov O. M., Gorshkov A. G., Egorov A. V., et. al. Crude in the lake of global heritage. Report RAN, 2007, t. 414, No. 5, p. 656-659

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