When mud volcanoes sleep: insight from seep geochemistry at the Dashgil mud volcano, Azerbaijan

Mazzini, A., Svensen, H., Planke, S., Guliyev, G.G., Akhmanov, G.G., Fallick, T. and Banks, D. (2009) When mud volcanoes sleep: insight from seep geochemistry at the Dashgil mud volcano, Azerbaijan. Marine and Petroleum Geology, 26(9), pp. 1704-1715. (doi: 10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2008.11.003)

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The worlds >1500 mud volcanoes are normally in a dormant stage due to the short duration of eruptions. Their dormant stage activity is often characterized by vigorous seepage of water, gas, and petroleum. However, the source of the fluids and the fluid–rock interactions within the mud volcano conduit remain poorly understood. In order to investigate this type of activity, we have combined satellite images with fieldwork and extensive sampling of water and gas at seeping gryphons, pools and salsa lakes at the Dashgil mud volcano in Azerbaijan. We find that caldera collapse faults and E–W oriented faults determine the location of the seeps. The seeping gas is dominated by methane (94.9–99.6%), with a δ13C (‰ V-PDB) in the −43.9 to −40.4‰ range, consistent throughout the 12 analysed seeps. Ethane and carbon dioxide occur in minor amounts. Seventeen samples of seeping water show a wide range in solute content and isotopic composition. Pools and salsa lakes have the highest salinities (up to 101,043 ppm Cl) and the lowest δ18O (‰ V-SMOW) values (1–4‰). The mud-rich gryphons have low salinities (<18,000 ppm Cl) and are enriched in 18O (δ18O = 4–6‰). The gas geochemistry suggests that the gases migrate to the surface from continuously leaking deep-seated reservoirs underneath the mud volcano, with minimal oxidation during migration. However, variations in gas wetness can be ascribed to molecular fractionation during the gas rise. In contrast, the water shows seasonal variations in isotopic composition and surface evaporation is proposed as a mechanism to explain high water salinities in salsa lakes. By contrast, gryphons have geochemical signals suggesting a deep-seated water source. These results demonstrate that the plumbing system of dormant mud volcanoes is continuously recharged from deeper sedimentary reservoirs and that a branched system of conduits exists in the shallow subsurface. While the gas composition is consistently similar throughout the crater, the large assortment of water present reflects the type of seep (i.e. gryphons versus pools and salsa lakes) and their location within the volcano. Our data highlight the importance of a carefully planned sampling strategy when the target is water geochemistry, whereas the methane content and isotopic composition is relatively independent of the particular seep morphology.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Dashgil mud volcano, Azerbaijan, dormant, methane, water geochemistry
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Fallick, Professor Anthony
Authors: Mazzini, A., Svensen, H., Planke, S., Guliyev, G.G., Akhmanov, G.G., Fallick, T., and Banks, D.
Subjects:Q Science > QE Geology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Marine and Petroleum Geology
Publisher:Elsevier Ltd
ISSN (Online):1873-4073
Published Online:18 November 2008

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