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Title: Methane in deep sea hydrothermal plumes : development of a new in-situ methane sensing technology
Author: Boulart, Cedric
ISNI:       0000 0001 3472 104X
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2008
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Information on the concentration and distribution of dissolved methane (CH4), together with other geochemical tracers, in real time is of great value in detecting, monitoring, and understanding the functioning of hydrothermal plumes. Water column anomalies of light transmission, dissolved CH4, manganese (Mn), and iron (Fe) were located over segments 15 and 16 of the Central Indian Ridge (CIR 20ºS), in December 2006. Along segment 15, a hydrothermal plume was present at 19°33’S/65°50’E. The source might be located north of that position and dispersed along the western flank by NW-SE currents. Methane to manganese ratios suggest that methane is produced by magmatic processes. On Segment 16, evidence for 1 or 2 hydrothermal plumes were detected over a lava plain (18°20’S/65°18’E). These data suffered from uncertainties due to sampling issues, which demonstrate the need for a reliable in-situ methane sensing technology. Current in-situ methane sensing technology is based on gas partitioning across gas permeable membranes, which are poorly characterised and variable in terms of permeability and environmental pressures. Two optical techniques were laboratory tested for the measurement of dissolved methane; Near Infrared Fibre-optic Evanescent Wave Spectroscopy (FEWS) and Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR). No detection (at the µM level) was possible with FEWS, but the second technique using SPR sensors associated with a methane specific binding chemically showed great promise. A limit of detection of 0.2 nM and a linear concentration range from 1 to 300 nM was demonstrated, under a range of temperature and salinity. In-situ deployments confirmed the suitability of the method for in-situ measurements. Values given by the sensor correlated well with the concentrations measured by traditional techniques. Future work is needed to decrease instrumental noise and to reduce the response time, and associated hysteresis effect.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: GC Oceanography ; QD Chemistry ; QE Geology