Xenon hydrate as an analogue of methane hydrate in geologic systems out of thermodynamic equilibrium

Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
By: , and 



Methane hydrate occurs naturally under pressure and temperature conditions that are not straightforward to replicate experimentally. Xenon has emerged as an attractive laboratory alternative to methane for studying hydrate formation and dissociation in multiphase systems, given that it forms hydrates under milder conditions. However, building reliable analogies between the two hydrates requires systematic comparisons, which are currently lacking. We address this gap by developing a theoretical and computational model of gas hydrates under equilibrium and nonequilibrium conditions. We first compare equilibrium phase behaviors of the Xe·H2O and CH4·H2O systems by calculating their isobaric phase diagram, and then study the nonequilibrium kinetics of interfacial hydrate growth using a phase field model. Our results show that Xe·H2O is a good experimental analog to CH4·H2O, but there are key differences to consider. In particular, the aqueous solubility of xenon is altered by the presence of hydrate, similar to what is observed for methane; but xenon is consistently less soluble than methane. Xenon hydrate has a wider nonstoichiometry region, which could lead to a thicker hydrate layer at the gas‐liquid interface when grown under similar kinetic forcing conditions. For both systems, our numerical calculations reveal that hydrate nonstoichiometry coupled with hydrate formation dynamics leads to a compositional gradient across the hydrate layer, where the stoichiometric ratio increases from the gas‐facing side to the liquid‐facing side. Our analysis suggests that accurate composition measurements could be used to infer the kinetic history of hydrate formation in natural settings where gas is abundant.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Xenon hydrate as an analogue of methane hydrate in geologic systems out of thermodynamic equilibrium
Series title Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
DOI 10.1029/2019GC008250
Volume 20
Issue 5
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 11 p.
First page 2462
Last page 2472
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