Our hypothesis is that methane was stable in the form of hydrates also during the ice ages.

Today methane hydrate exists in many areas just outside of the methane hydrate equilibrium field, but we think methane would have been stable as hydrate during the ice ages, when more than 1,000 metres thick ice ‘loaded’ the area.

We will reconstruct these changes for the Barents Sea and Svalbard margins over the last nine million years. Our goal is to provide new information and improve our understanding of the variability of methane release which can be related to retreating glaciers.

To investigate this further, we will acquire new high-resolution 2D and 3D seismic data, in addition to chirp data. Rapid climatic and environmental changes over the last 130 ka years will be deciphered by using the seafloor drill rig on board the German vessel R/V Maria S. Merian at the North-Western Barents Sea Margin.

We will also make use of a database of seismic profiles for the areas that connect to the Barents Sea put together in the ongoing GlaciBar project, which is part of the PETROMAKS programme from The Research Council of Norway.

About the research area leader

Karin Andreassen is a professor in marine geology and geophysics at UiT The Arctic University of Norway. Her main research interests are the Cenozoic development of the Barents Sea area, with focus on glacial geomorphology, sediments and processes, shallow gas and fluid flow. She holds a PhD degree in applied geophysics from UiT.

Karin has taught marine geology and geophysics at all levels, and supervised many master’s and PhD students. She has also been a visiting professor at the University of Cambridge, the University of Montpellier, and the University of Barcelona.

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