Monitoring of gas and seismic energy release by multiparametric benthic observatory along the North Anatolian Fault in the Sea of Marmara (NW Turkey)


GEOPHYSICAL JOURNAL INTERNATIONAL, vol.196, no.2, pp.850-866, 2014 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 196 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Doi Number: 10.1093/gji/ggt436
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.850-866
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: No


Episodic gas seepage occurs at the seafloor in the Gulf of Izmit (Sea of Marmara, NW Turkey) along the submerged segment of the North Anatolian Fault (NAF), which ruptured during the 1999 M(w)7.4 Izmit earthquake, and caused tectonic loading of the fault segment in front of the Istanbul metropolitan area. In order to study gas seepage and seismic energy release along the NAF, a multiparametric benthic observatory (SN-4) was deployed in the gulf at the western end of the 1999 Izmit earthquake rupture, and operated for about 1 yr at 166 m water depth. The SN-4 payload included a three-component broad-band seismometer, as well as gas and oceanographic sensors. We analysed data collected continuously for 161 d in the first part of the experiment, from 2009 October to 2010 March. The main objective of our work was to verify whether tectonic deformation along the NAF could trigger methane seepage. For this reason, we considered only local seismicity, that is, within 100 km from the station. No significant (M-L >= 3.6) local earthquakes occurred during this period; on the other hand, the seismometer recorded high-frequency SDEs (short duration events), which are not related to seismicity but to abrupt increases of dissolved methane concentration in the sea water that we called MPEs (methane peak events). Acquisition of current velocity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, temperature and salinity, allowed us to analyse the local oceanographic setting during each event, and correlate SDEs to episodic gas discharges from the seabed. We noted that MPEs are the result of such gas releases, but are detected only under favourable oceanographic conditions. This stresses the importance of collecting long-term multiparametric time-series to address complex phenomena such as gas and seismic energy release at the seafloor. Results from the SN-4 experiment in the Sea of Marmara suggest that neither low-magnitude local seismicity, nor regional events affect intensity and frequency of gas flows from the seafloor.