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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2019 / Shallow-rooted mud volcanism in Lake Baikal

O.M. Khlystov, J. Poort, A. Mazzini, G.G. Akhmanov, H. Minami, A. Hachikubo, A.B. Khabuev, A.V. Kazakov, M. Batist, L. Naudts, A.G. Chenskiy, and S.S. Vorobeva (2019)

Shallow-rooted mud volcanism in Lake Baikal

Marine and Petroleum Geology, 102:580-589.

Lake Baikal is the only freshwater basin containing sediments with gas hydrate accumulations, some of which are associated with mud volcano activity. Twenty-two mud volcanoes have already been identified in different areas of Lake Baikal, but the formation process and source depth remained unknown due to a lack of conclusive evidences. Here we discuss a set of geological and geophysical data to report the discovery of the hydrate-bearing Akadem mud volcanic complex (AMVC) on the Academician Ridge in central Lake Baikal. The obtained results allowed for the first time to concretely estimate the source depth of the mobilized fluids and sediments. Analysis of diatom skeletons present in the mud breccia revealed that the oldest diatom specimen is Cyclotella Iris et var. This specie is characteristic for a short age interval ranging between 4.8 and 5.6 Ma. The same diatom was also detected between 230 and 310 m below the lake floor (mblf) in the borehole BDP-98 drilled near the AMVC. Combining biostratigraphic correlation and seismostratigraphy, it is estimated that the same interval is located at 200–300 mblf below the mud volcanic field. The elevated heat flow measured at AMVC indicates that the original bottom gas hydrate stability (regionally located at ∼212 mblf) is currently shifted upwards of ∼100 m. The acquired data are consistent with a scenario envisaging the rise of warm fluids throughout the mud volcano complex zone. We suggest that deep fluids migration could have initiated the gas hydrate dissociation and, in turn, rapidly generated over pressured shallow mud chambers. The ultimate piercing and triggering of the mud volcanoes activity resulted in the eruption of mud breccia and formation of densely packed crater sites in the study area. The depicted scenario can be applied to many mud volcanoes in Lake Baikal where similar anomalous heat flow conditions have been measured. These findings also emphasize that the genetic association between gas hydrate dissociation and the initiation of eruptive activity explains numerous peculiarities of the “Baikal” sedimentary volcanism (e.g. lack of lithified rocks among mud breccia clasts, gas hydrates, moderately elevated heat flow). This type of mud volcanism differentiates from the typically deeply rooted piercements observed worldwide in mature (marine) sedimentary basins. Ultimately our findings open a new prospective for mud volcano research worldwide, emphasizing that gas hydrates are not just one of the common features for sedimentary volcanism, but may have an active role as a triggering mechanism for the process itself.

Biostratigraphy, Lake baikal, Diatom analysis, Mud volcanic breccia, Gas hydrates, Mud volcano, Heat flow

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