During a recent oceanographical-geophysical survey carried out in the southeastern part of the Gulf of Patras in Western Greece for the construction of an outfall, an active pockmark field was found. The pockmark field was formed in soft layered Holocene silts. The pockmarks are associated with acoustic anomalies attributed to gas-charged sediments. The pockmarks vary in size and shape from 25 to 250 m in diameter and from 0.5 to 15 m in depth and are among the largest and deepest observed in the world. On July 14th, 1993, during the survey, a major earthquake of magnitude 5.4 on the Richter scale occurred in the area. During the 24 hour period prior to the earthquake the bottom water temperature anomalously increased on three occasions, whilst for a few days after the earthquake it was noted that the majority of the pockmarks were venting gas bublles. It is considered that the three abrupt sea-water temperature increases were probably the result of upward migrating high-temperature gas bubbles in the water column. It is further suggested that the earthquake was the triggering mechanism and that the gas expulsion was caused by the reduction in the pore volume in the sediments resulting from changes in the stress regime prior to the earthquake. Therefore, it can be suggested that in seismic areas adjacent to pockmark fields, earthquake prediction may be achieved by monitoring the water temperature and/or the rate of gas venting in the pockmark field. Our analysis indicates that the pockmark field in the Patras Gulf has formed slowly during the Holocene by continuous gas venting, which is periodically being interrupted by short-duration events of enhanced gas seepage triggered by earthquakes.
Marine Geology – Elsevier
Published: Mar 1, 1996
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