SUGAR Subproject A1 Objectives

The generation of gas hydrates requires the presence of free gas. Consequently, the presence of rising gas bubbles from the seafloor or gas flares in the water column is a strong indicator for the presence of gas hydrates in the subsurface. Gas bubbles in the water column can best be detected by hydro-acoustic methods.

Very efficient tools for that purpose are multibeam echosounder. Traditionally these systems were optimized for the precise detection of the seafloor which means that signals from the water column are suppressed or disregarded.

The aim of subproject A1 is to develop data processing methods and enhanced visualisation techniques to allow for a better and faster detection and localisation of gas flares in the water column using portable multibeam systems. The newest generation of echosounder of L-3 communications ELAC-Nautik GmbH allow for a precise determination of seafloor topography as well as for a complete recording of signals from the water column.

To enable these systems for a systematic and routine prospection of gas flares, however, the following objectives have to be achieved:

  • Development of suitable algorithms to automatically select interesting parts in the data stream in space and / or time for a reasonable data reduction
  • Development of algorithms and techniques to allow for a real-time detection of reflections from gas bubbles
  • Development of algorithms for the discrimination between echoes from gas bubbles and other objects in the water column, such as fish swarms, plankton, or abrupt changes of the physical properties of the water
  • Investigation of the geological environment of vent sites
  • Transfer of the new methods to portable multibeam systems which enable a flexible use of ships of opportunity

The objectives of subproject A1 will allow for a substantially better detection and analysis of gas bubbles in the water column and thus enable an efficient exploration on gas hydrate deposits. Furthermore, these methods can also serve as a leakage-monitor-system during a prospective CO2-deposition in the sediments, as they are sensitive not just to gas bubbles but also to small droplets of fluid CO2 in the water column.


Artemov, Y.G.Acoustic observations of gas bubble streams in the NW Black Sea as a method for estimation of gas flux from vent sites 2003
Vol. 5(09421)Geophysical Research Abstracts 
Best, A.I., Richardson, M.D., Boudreau, B.P., Judd, A.G., Leifer, I., Lyons, A.P., Martens, C.S., Orange, D.L. & Wheeler, S.J.Shallow Seabed Methane Gas Could Pose Coastal Hazard 2006EOS, TRANSACTIONS AMERICAN GEOPHYSICAL UNION
Vol. 87(22) 
Brewer, P.G., Chen, B., Warzinki, R., Baggeroer, A., Peltzer, E.T., Dunk, R.M. & Walz, P.Three-dimensional acoustic monitoring and modeling of a deep-sea CO2 droplet cloud 2006Geophysical Research Letters
Vol. 33(L23607) 
Clarke, J.E.H.Applications of Multibeam Water Column Imaging for Hydrographic Survey 2006The Hydrographic Journal
Vol. 120, pp. 3-15 
von Deimling, J.S., Brockhoff, J. & Greinert, J.Flare imaging with multibeam systems: Data processing for bubble detection at seeps 2007Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems
Vol. 8, pp. 7 
Greinert, J., Artemov, Y., Egorov, V., De Batist, M. & McGinnis, D.1300-m-high rising bubbles from mud volcanoes at 2080m in the Black Sea: Hydroacoustic characteristics and temporal variability 2006Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Vol. 244(1-2), pp. 1-15 
Greinert, J. & Nutzel, B.Hydroacoustic experiments to establish a method for the determination of methane bubble fluxes at cold seeps 2004Geo-Marine Letters
Vol. 24(2), pp. 75-85 
Haeckel, M., Suess, E., Wallmann, K. & Rickert, D.Rising methane gas bubbles form massive hydrate layers at the seafloor 2004Geochimica Et Cosmochimica Acta
Vol. 68(21), pp. 4335-4345 
Klaucke, I., Sahling, H., Weinrebe, W., Blinova, V., Burk, D., Lursmanashvili, N. & Bohrmann, G.Acoustic investigation of cold seeps offshore Georgia, eastern Black Sea 2006Marine Geology
Vol. 231(1-4), pp. 51-67 
Klaucke, I., Weinrebe, W., Sahling, H., Bohrmann, G. & Bürk, D.Mapping deep-water gas emissions with sidescan sonar 2005EOS, TRANSACTIONS AMERICAN GEOPHYSICAL UNION
Vol. 86(83) 
Milkov, A.V.Global estimates of hydrate-bound gas in marine sediments: how much is really out there? 2004Earth-Science Reviews
Vol. 66(3-4), pp. 183-197 
Pfannkuche, O.Methane cycle at shallow gaseous sediments in the central North Sea 2005 techreport 
Rehder, G., Brewer, P.W., Peltzer, E.T. & Friederich, G.Enhanced lifetime of methane bubble streams within the deep ocean 2002Geophysical Research Letters
Vol. 29(15) 
Weber, T., Bradley, D., Culver, R.L. & Lyons, A.Inferring the vertical turbulent diffusion coefficient from backscatter measurements with a multibeam sonar 2003The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Vol. 114(4), pp. 2300-2300 
  • Project leader A1

    Dr. rer. nat. Wilhelm Weinrebe
    Forschungsbereich 4: Dynamik des Ozeanbodens
    FE Geodynamik
    SFB 574

    Room: 8/D-209
    Phone: +49 431 600-2281
    Fax: +49 431 600-2922
    E-Mail: wweinrebe(at)

    Wischhofstrasse 1-3

    L-3 Communications ELAC-Nautik GmbH

    Dr. Peter Gimpel

    Dr. Christian Zwanzig