Project leader

Jochen Manfred Knies

Phone: 73904116


A natural methane seepage site northwest off Svalbard.
"NORCRUST - Norwegian margin fluid systems and methane derived carbonate crusts" is a collaborative project lead by the Geological Survey of Norway (NGU), funded by The Research Council of Norway's (NFR) PETROMAKS 2 programme.

Partners are “CAGE – Center for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment, and Climate” at the University of Tromsø, Migris AS, Statoil ASA, Lundin Norway AS, and ENI Norge.

NORCRUST aims to study natural methane seepage sites at the seabed of the Norwegian-Barents seas by integrating geological, geochemical, and biological data. NORCRUST wants to understand the dynamics and history of these fluid flow systems and its control factors.

This requires knowledge of timing of hydrocarbon migration to the seafloor, ability to distinguish hydrocarbon origin from shallow biogenic and deep thermogenic sources, and reliable assessment of the temperature and depth of hydrocarbon formation.

NORCRUST will provide this knowledge by applying recent technological and scientific advances on methane-derived carbonate crusts formed at seepage sites and gas-impregnated sediments during active leakage of hydrocarbons. We have been using remotely operating vehicles (ROV) to inspect the seafloor and sample carbonate crusts, gas bubbles released from the seafloor and surrounding sediments.

In 2017, NORCRUST will explore recently discovered canyons along the Lofoten margin on board research vessel G.O. Sars. The video recorded from a natural methane seepage site northwest off Svalbard illustrates the technical operations during the seafloor sampling. From the ROV, we sample natural methane seep sites which are evident on the seafloor by the presence of methane oxidizing bacteria (white spots). Parallel we sample carbonate crusts, which are visible at the seafloor apparently as hard rocks colonized by various organisms, however, formed during the bacterial consumption of sulphate and methane close to the seafloor. The abundance of high methane concentration below the seafloor is evident by the release of free gas bubbling into the water column during sampling . All sampled material is collected in baskets at the seafloor and will be brought up to the research vessel for further inspection and detailed analysis.

The expected results will help to better characterize the origin of the seeping methane and the geological history, why and when methane was released into the water column and eventually to the atmosphere.   

NORCRUST collaborates with world-leading research institution in the field of stable isotope geochemistry, U-Th geochronology, mineralogy and petrography. The principal researchers within NORCRUST are Jochen Knies, Aivo Lepland, Terje Thorsnes (NGU), and Giuliana Panieri (CAGE-UiT). Post Doc fellows are Tobias Himmler, Wei-Li Hong, and Pierre Antoine Dessandier. The project started in 2016 and will last until 2020.