Fluid Migration through Permafrost and the Pool of Greenhouse Gases in Frozen Soils of an Oil and Gas Field
Most methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions originate from the biodegradation of organic matter of soils and of degrading permafrost in the Arctic. However, there is limited evidence of the activity of geological sources, and little understanding of the pathways of migration of gaseous fluids through the porous mineral matrix filled with ice. We estimated the effect of geological factors on the winter storage of the greenhouse gases in frozen soils by statistical analysis of the geodatabase, which combined a field gas survey of frozen soils, subsurface sounding, and remote sensing data. Frozen soils stored on average 0.016 g CH4 m−3 and 11.5 g CO2 m−3. Microseeps, recognized by isolated anomalies of helium, had 30% higher CH4 concentrations. Lineaments marking margins of tectonic blocks were estimated to have 300% higher CH4 concentrations. High concentrations of propane and ethane indicated the contribution of diffuse fluid flow from hydrocarbon-bearing beds on 95% of the 130 km2 study area. In addition to the fluid contribution, we estimated an overwintering pool of greenhouse gases in frozen soil for the first time. Being at least 0.01–0.1% of the soil organic matter mass, these gaseous forms of carbon can be critical for the early-summer Arctic ecosystem functioning.