International Conference on Gas Hydrates (ICGH) (6th : 2008)

Compact Multipurpose sub-sampling and processing of in-situ cores with PRESS (Pressurized Core Sub-sampling.. Anders, Erik; Müller, Wolfgang H. 2008-07-31

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   COMPACT MULTIPURPOSE SUB-SAMPLING AND PROCESSING OF IN-SITU CORES WITH PRESS (PRESSURIZED CORE SUB-SAMPLING AND EXTRUSION SYSTEM)    Erik Anders ?  Lehrstuhl fr Kontinuumsmechanik und Materialtheorie  Technische Universitt Berlin  Einsteinufer 5 , 10587 B erlin GERMANY  Wolfgang H . Mller  Lehrstuhl fr Kontinuumsmechanik und Materialtheorie  Technische Universitt Berlin  Einsteinufer 5,  10587 Berlin  GERMANY   ABSTRACT Understanding the deep biosphere is of great commercial and scientific interest and will co tri-bute to increased knowledge of the environment.   If environmentally relevant results are to be o b-tained the precondition to achieve genuine findings is research in pristine habitat as close as po -sible to those encountered in-situ. Therefore benthic conditions of sediment structure and gas hydrates, temperature, pressure and bio-geochemistry have to be maintained during the sequences of sampling, retrieval, transfer, s to-rage and downstream analysis. At the Technische Universitt Berlin (TUB) the Pressurized Core Sub-Sampling and Extrusion System (PRESS) was developed in the EU project HYACE/HYACINTH. It enables well-defined sectioning and transfer of drilled pressure -cores [obtained by HYACE Rotary Corer (HRC) and Fugro  Pressure  Corer  (FPC)]  into  transpo rtation  and  investigation  chambers.  Coupled  with DeepIsoBUG (University Cardiff, John Parkes) it allows sub-sampling and incubation of coaxial core-sections to examine high-pressure adapted bacteria or remote biogeochemical processes in defined research conditions of the laboratory; all sterile, anaerobic and without depressurisation. Appraisals of successful PRESS deployments in the Gulf of Mexico, on IODP Expedition 311 and as part of the NGHP expedition 01  demonstrate the general concept to be feasible and useful. Aided by  Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) TUB is currently working on concepts to downscale the system in order to reduce logistical and financial expenses and, likewise, to enlarge its implementation by requiring less operating space.   Redesigning the cutting mechanism shall simultaneously adjust the system to harder cores (e.g., ICDP).  Novel transportation chambers for processed sub-samples intend to make the system more attractive for a broad spectrum of users and reduce their interdependence.  Keywords: gas hydrates, pressure coring, in-situ, sampling, sub sampling, microbiology                                                         ?  Corresponding author: Phone: +49 30 314 25246 Fax +40 30 314 244 99 E-mail: Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Gas Hydrates (ICGH 2008),  Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA, July 6-10, 2008.  NOMENCLATURE BHA  Bottom-Hole Assembly DFG  Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft EU  European Union FPC  Fugro Pressure Corer HRC  HYACE Rotary Corer HYACE  HYdrate Autoclave Coring Equipment HYACINTH  HYACE  Tools  in  New  Test  on Hydrates ICDP  International Continental Scientif-ic Drilling Program MSCL-P  Pressure Multisensor Core Logger (Geotek) NGHP  Indian  National  Gas  Hydrate  Pro-gram PCS  Pressure Core Sampler PRESS   Pressurized  Core  Sub-Sampling and Extrusion System PTCS  Pressure and Temperature Main-taining Coring System SC   Storage Chamber STC  manipulator/Shear Transfer Chamber TUB  Technische Universitt Berlin  INTRODUCTION A core sample, recovered from beneath the land or  sea floor, is no longer in pristine condition, due to the enormous pressure change while moving it to the surface, from great depths to atmospheric con-ditions.    As  a  result  mechanical,  physical,  and chemical properties as well as living conditions for microorganisms of the deep biosphere are signif i-cantly altered.  In order to investigate highly inst a-ble  gas  hydrates,  which  decomposes  under  pre s-sure  and  temperature  change, a  suite  of  research technologies  have  been  developed  by  TUB  and European partners in the EU Project HYACE (Hy-drate  Autoclave  Coring  Equipment  System)  in 1997.    The  succeeding  Project  HYACINTH (HYACE Tools in New Test on Hydrates), as well as  continuous  improvements  during  various  de-ployments  of these prototypes were considerably successful and made the tools more and more rel i-able.  The  investigation  of  the  pressurized  cores  with various measurements, such as X-ray, gamma ray, and p-wave, revealed numerous details of gas hy-drates which have been unknown before and ca n-not be obtained with unpressurized cores.  PRESS, the sub-sampling system developed by TU Berlin, is furthermore able to produce well defined press u-rized  sub-sections  of  anoxic  and  contamination controllable  sub-samples  of  desired  length  at  a maximum of 25 MPa of operating pressure.  These sub-sections  can  either  be  transferred  under  pres-sure  into  transportation  chambers  or  are  prepro-cessed with the pressurized cutter and diverter unit (DeepIso  Bug,  Uni.  Cardiff)  for  microbiological research at highest pressures. The next logical step of development is extending the  applicability  of  the  pressure  coring  system  to pressure  related  phenomena  other  than  gas  h y-drates.    Possible  future  applications  include,  but are  not  limited  to,  research  in  shales  and  other tight  formations,  CO2-sequestration,  oil  and  gas exploration, coalbed methane, and microbiology of the deep biosphere. To  meet  the  corresponding  requirements  and  to incorporate the experiences from previous expedi-tions the pressure coring system needs to be rede-signed to adapt it to the new applications.  HYACINTH PRESSURE CORING [1] Depressurization and changes in temperature dur-ing  conventional  coring  changes  the  majority  of core properties.  This holds especially true for gas hydrates  that  will  decompose  rapidly,  which prompted a few scientific and engineering research groups in the U.S., Japan, and Europe to develop methods and tools of pressure sampling and mon i-toring in order to achieve in-situ findings in pris-tine habitat. In 1997 an EU research project and consortium, HYACE,  developed  inter  alia,  two  novel  down hole  pressure  coring  systems;  the  motor  driven HRC  (Hyace  Rotary  Corer)  for  hard  formations, and a percussion corer FPC (Fugro Pressure Corer) for softer formations. These systems were technically evaluated in 2000.  The HRC was tested in the deep ocean on board of RV Joides Resolution on ODP Leg 191 at the b e-ginning of 2001, and the FPC was tested during two Fugro offshore service missions. During  the  HYACE  follow-up  project  HYA-CINTH further improvements were made, and  the partners additionally developed a pressurized sub-sampling device (Hans Amann, TU Berlin) and a suite  of  pressurized  microbiological  research equipment (John Parkes, now University of Ca r-diff).    With  the  results  of  HYACE  and  HYA-CINTH, new technical systems of in-situ research, process investigations of unchanged, pristine co n-ditions of the deep sea floor became feasible.  State of the Art Apart  from  gas  hydrate  research  and  few  excep-tions, where pressure coring is inevitable to gather reliable results, most scientist so far come to terms with ex-situ methods; but ex-situ methods can give limited answers only concerning gas hydrate asso-ciated micro biosphere and many other properties, such  as  equilibrium  of  gases,  fluids  and  solids, phase boundaries, wettability, integrity of the me-chanical structure, etc.  To date, investigations of fundamental  lithological  issues  have  remained largely disconnected from applied proven studies using  in  situ  pressure  drilling  technologies,  a l-though the integration and correlation between the very  diverse  data  sets  of  standard  core  measure-ment  and  pressure  core  data  makes  it  difficult  to extrapolate anything reliably beyond the borehole.  To  bring  pristine  benthic  conditions  to  the  co n-trolled  situation  of the  lab  and  to  evaluate  them, under quasi in-situ conditions, three main steps are necessary: i)  actual  autoclave  sampling  from  the  deep  bi-osphere, ii)  sub-sampling and core transfer under in -situ conditions, iii)  pressurized lab analysis and technical process test methods.  Autoclave Coring Tools Down-hole autoclave coring tools worth mentio n-ing are ODPs Pressure Core Sampler (PCS) from the U.S., and the Japanese Pressure and Tempera-ture Maintaining Coring System (PTCS).  In co n-trast  to  the  more  flexible  and  economic  HYA-CINTH wire line tools, such as the Hyace Rotary Corer (HRC), or the Fugro Pressure Corer (FPC) the PTCS and PCS cannot be interfaced with core transfer  or  subsequent  processing  tools.    Cons e-quently  their  applications  and  advantages  are  l i-mited to pressurized core retrieval only.  HYACINTH coring tools [2] Two  types  of  wireline  pressure  coring tools  were developed  in  the  EU-funded  HYACE/  HYA-CINTH programs: A percussion corer and a rotary corer, which were designed to cut and recover core in a range of lithologies where gas hydrate bearing formations might exist.  Both tools have been de-signed for use with the same IODP bottom -hole assembly  (BHA)  as  the  PCS  and  follow  similar operational procedures on the rig floor.   The tools are deployed in the open drill string, which is t hen closed  to  lower  the  tools  on  the  wireline  while pumping and rotating.  After  the pressure core  is collected the corer is recovered to the surface, as fast as practically possible.  In order to prevent the autoclaves from warming up they are continuousl y cooled until they are removed from the tools and placed in a refrigerated place for analysis.  HYCINTH core transfer In order to remove the core from the pressure corer autoclave, the autoclave is connected to the mani-pulator/shear  transfer  chamber  (STC) with quick-clamps and then pressure-balanced with the autoc-lave before opening the ball valves and transfe r-ring  the  pressure  core  together  with  mechanical top into the STC. Coupled with Geoteks Pressure Multisensor  Core  Logger  (MSCL-P)  nondestruc-tive  measurements  can  be  conducted.    For  sub-sampling  or  further  analysis  cores  are  transferred into  storage  chambers  (SC)  for  storage  at  in-situ pressure and temperature-controlled conditions (5-7C) for shore-based analyses. When transferring a core the bottom h alf, contain-ing  the  sediment,  is  severed  from  the  re-usable mechanical top half by clipping the liner with the shear-blades.   HYACINTH core logging Access for scientific surveying and remote analy-sis  of  a  sample  in  a  high  pressure  vessel  is  con-fined to remote monitoring methods from outside of the pressure vessel.  Material properties of pres-sure resistant and cost effective vessels on the one side, transmission of penetrating observation rays and sufficient resolution of core structure investi-gation on the  other  side,  oppose  each  other.  Al-though pressure cores are particularly valuable for providing accurate  methane volumes for gas h y-drate  concentration  calculations,  nondestructive measurements made before or during the depressu-rization process can provide additional information on the nature and distribution of gas hydrate wit h-in the sediment and rare data on near -in-situ phys-ical properties of gas-hydrate-bearing sediments. The  Geotek  MSCL-P  is  an  automated  measure-ment  system  for  the  measurement  of  acoustic  P-wave velocity, gamma ray attenuation, and X -ray image  data  on  HYACINTH  pressure  cores  under pressures  up  to  25  MPa.    The  MSCL-P  pressure chamber is constructed of aluminum and contains an internal set of ultrasonic transducers.  X-ray and gamma ray sources and detectors are situated out-side of the pressure chamber.  The system moves pressurized HYACINTH cores incrementally past these  sensors  under  computer  control  allowing detailed gamma density and acoustic velocity pro-files  to  be  obtained  rapidly  an d  automatically along the core as well as creating automated full-core X-ray image montages.  HYACINTH sub-sampling [3] Whereas  pressurized  coring  for  scientific  drilling is slowly advancing there are only limited methods and tools available to sub-sample and subsequent-ly  investigate  these  samples  from  the  deep  and high pressure exposed sea floor and its deep u n-derground.  PRESS, the sub-sampling system is able to cut the HYACINTH pressure cores radial into sections of desired length [Fig.s 1 and 2].   Figure 1  Sectioning a HYACINTH pressure core inside a reefer container with PRESS   Figure 2  Depressurized core section after cutting with PRESS  These whole round subsections can either be trans-ferred into transportation and investigation cha m-bers for worldwide shipment to other laboratories or  are  the  feed  material  for  pressure  dependent geo-microbiological sub-sampling. Contamination control of the pristine core material is  a  prerequisite  and  an  additional  requirement  to establish  veridical  process  data on the formation and the decay of gas hydrates in the deep sea floor, but  most  necessary  for  geo-microbiological  re-search as in-situ phenomena. Swarf free liner cutting, controlled sterilization of hazardous  parts  and  sterilized  off-cutting  of  all potentially  contaminated  exterior  core  parts  was improved and investigated during the progress of development and could minimize the peril of co n-tamination.  Axial extrusion of the very center of the core pr o-duces undisturbed core plugs from the down -hole core as sterile, anoxic, high pressure input feed for the  cutter  and  diverter  unit  (DeepIso  Bug,  Uni. Cardiff) [Fig. 3] .   Figure 3  Depressurized axial core plug extrusion with PRESS (l: core plug; r: extruded core section)   Camera monitoring during the operation aids sam-ple  selection  and  confirms  successful  sample transfer [Fig. 4].   Figure 4  PRESS coupled with DeepIso Bug, video observed sub-sampling of the pressure core plug   Liquid  medium  in  the  pressure  vessels  enables samples  to  be  slurred  and  then  tr ansferred  via  a transition adapter into a number of   high-pressure vessels  (max  100  MPa).  These  can  be  incubated under a range of conditions (different media, pre s-sures, temperatures etc.) thereby enriching a range of different high-pressure adapted bacteria (piezo-philes) or study biogeochemical processes at high pressure,  such  as  rates  of  activity  using  radio-tracers.    Finally,  pure  cultures  can  be  obtained from positive enrichments within a high-pressure isolation chamber for further study and characteri-sation. All  systems,  well  interfaced  and  pressure  safety certified, according to the European pressure ve s-sel regulation 97/23/EC, were successfully used in April and May 2005.  A subsequent deployment as part  of  the  NGHP  expedition  01  in  November 2006 substantiated the usability of the system and could  successfully  accommodate  the  demand  for pristine  deep  marine  sediment  samples  by  using reliable investigation methods. Several  pressurized  microbiological  cultivation chambers were achieved and  open up new dimen-sions of applied in-situ deep biosphere science. Initial results seem promising, showing consistent-ly higher cell numbers to be obtained under el e-vated  pressure  (up  to  78  MPa )  for  a  number  of different  enrichment  media  when  compared  to  1 bar incubation [4].  PERSPECTIVE Climate  change,  dwindling  resources  and  over -consumption result in immediate demand for su s-tainable  resource  allocation,  habitat  conservation and claim for new technologies and prospects for damage-containment.    Understanding  the  deep biosphere  may  help  to  define  potential  hazards, significant regional and global earth flux comp o-nents, the limits of life on Earth, potentially allows useful  organisms  for  biotechnology  to  be  ident i-fied, and will contribute to increased knowledge of the environment. Within  DFG  projects  TUB  currently  works  on concepts  to  scale  down  the  system  in  size  and weight and to optimize components to  effectively reduces  logistical  and  financial  expenses  and  en-larges the field of application. It is proposed to extend the ra nge of applications for the rotary pressure corer and the  sub-sampling and  transfer system  to  all  types  of  sediments  and rocks and to various new  operations in other pres-sure  related  fields  of  research  such  as  unconven-tional gas exploration (coalbed methane, tight gas, gas hydrate), CO2 sequestration, and microbiology of  the  deep  biosphere.    Merging  redundant  and analogous procedures shall enhance the handling of  the  tool  set  and  likewise  enlarge  their  impl -mentation  to  make  them  more  efficient  or  scale down their immense proportion to reduce logisti c-al  and  financial  expenses.   Reducing  the PRESS dimensions  to  a  possible  minimum  comprises, inter alia, its implementation on drilling platforms. Expedient enhancement of an overall solution for pressure  core  retrieval,  process  and  investigation will open the way for an on -site,  all-purpose, in-situ  complete  equipment.    The  faster  a  core  is processed,  the  better    even  when  dealing  with pressure and temperature controlled core material. The proposed assembly would allow for executing the  whole  operation  of  coring,  non -destructive measurement, pre-processing and transfer into the storage chamber.  Extensive post-cruise processing and  interim  storage would be dispensable.  Cores could be entirely arranged in  transport and investi-gation  vessels  for  worldwide  shipping  within hours after retrieval [Fig 5].    Figure 5  Comparison between current HYA-CINTH system and proposed new assembly   Advanced  design,  improved  functioning,  high performance materials and safety engineering con-tinue  to  guide  further  technology  developments and will  meet the requirements of new fields of applications.  REFERENCES [1]  Schultheiss,  P.J.,  Francis  T.J.G,  Holland  M., Roberts J. A, Amann H., Thjunjoto; Parkes R.J., Martin  D.,  Rothfuss  M.,  Thyunder  F.&  Jackson P.D.  Pressure  coring,  logging  and  subsampling with the HYACINTH system. Rothwell, R.G. (ed.) New Techniques in Sediment Core Analysis. Geo-logical  Society,  London  2006,  Special  Public a-tions, 267, pp. 151-163. [2] Rothfuss M.,  et al.: Gewinnung von Bohrker-nen aus marinen Gashydraten unter in situ Bedi n-gungen mit dem HYACE  Rotary  Corer (Retrieval of  cores  from  marine  gas  hydrates  under  in  situ conditions  with  the  HYACE  Rotary  Corer) .  In: Proceedings  of  the  DGMK  Spring  Conference, Celle, Germany, 2003, pp. 565-576. [3]  Mller  W.H.,  Anders  E.,  Amann  H.:  In-situ Sampling, Transfer and Investigation Methods in Scientific  Drilling,  Technology  Progress  Report from IODP Leg 311, Cascadia and Beyond ; Poster presentation,  IODP-ICDP  Kolloquium,  Greifs-wald, March 27-29, 2006; Abstr. Vol., pp. 94-95. [4] Parkes R.J., Martin D., Mller W. H., Anders E.,  Amann  H.,  Wang  X.,  Dotchev  K.:  Sub-Sampling  and  Microbiological  Experiments  on High-Pressure  Cores  without  Depressurisation; Abstract of poster presentation,  EuroForum, Car-diff, May 8-9, 2006.                  


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