Gases in Taiwan mud volcanoes: Chemical composition, methane carbon isotopes, and gas fluxes

Hung Chun Chao, Chen Feng You, Chih Hsien Sun

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27 Citations (Scopus)


Mud volcanoes are important pathways for CH4 emission from deep buried sediments; however, the importance of gas fluxes have hitherto been neglected in atmospheric source budget considerations. In this study, gas fluxes have been monitored to examine the stability of their chemical compositions and fluxes spatially, and stable C isotopic ratios of CH4 were determined, for several mud volcanoes on land in Taiwan. The major gas components are CH4 (>90%), "air" (i.e. N2 + O2 + Ar, 1-5%) and CO2 (1-5%) and these associated gas fluxes varied slightly at different mud volcanoes in southwestern Taiwan. The Hsiao-kun-shui (HKS) mud volcano emits the highest CH4 concentration (CH4 > 97%). On the other hand, the Chung-lun mud volcano (CL) shows CO2 up to 85%, and much lower CH4 content (<37%). High CH4 content (>90%) with low CO2 (<0.2%) are detected in the mud volcano gases collected in eastern Taiwan. It is suggestive that these gases are mostly of thermogenic origin based on C1 (methane)/C2 (ethane) + C3 (propane) and δ13CCH4 results, with the exception of mud volcanoes situated along the Gu-ting-keng (GTK) anticline axis showing unique biogenic characteristics. Only small CH4 concentration variations, <2%, were detected in four on-site short term field-monitoring experiments, at Yue-shi-jie A, B, Kun-shui-ping and Lo-shan A. Preliminary estimation of CH4 emission fluxes for mud volcanoes on land in Taiwan fall in a range between 980 and 2010 tons annually. If soil diffusion were taken into account, the total amount of mud volcano CH4 could contribute up to 10% of total natural CH4 emissions in Taiwan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-436
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Geochemistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Mar

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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