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Large NGH Cold Seep Area Discovered in South China Sea

Updated :07,15,2016

In late June, Dr. Li Jinfa, Member of Leading Party Group, Deputy Director of China Geological Survey (CGS) and head of the leading group of Hydrate Producing Test Project, released the scientific investigation achievement about "Haima Cold Seep" for the first time in Guangzhou Marine Geological Survey, China Geological Survey (CGS).

According to Li, CGS has carried out geological, geophysical investigation and scientific research on the continental slope system of northern South China Sea since 1999 and delineated a number of potential "cold seep" areas in the seafloor. In March 2015, the confirmatory survey was preferentially conducted in western marine area of Pearl River Mouth Basin with "Haima", an indigenous unmanned remote operated vehicle (ROV) with the maximum diving depth of 4,500m, and large active seafloor "cold seep" was discovered for the first time. Since it was the first time for "Haima" ROV to be used for marine geological survey after it was developed, the cold seep was named "Haima Cold Seep". 

Li noted that as the largest active cold seep discovered in western marine area of the continental slope of northern South China Sea for the first time, "Haima Cold Seep" not only indicated that China achieved breakthrough in Natural Gas Hydrate (NGH) resources exploration, but also meant important scientific research significance. 

First, it indicates major breakthrough in NGH exploration. The obtainment of abundant NGH samples from seafloor surface of "Haima Cold Seep" is another major breakthrough for ore prospecting in new marine areas after Shenhu marine area in the continental slope of northern South China Sea and eastern marine area of Pearl River Mouth Basin. It is further proven that marine NGH widely spreads over the waters under the jurisdiction of China with tremendous resources potential. Second, it provides an important "window" for international frontier science research. "Haima Cold Seep" provides an important basis and experiment platform for the research on significant scientific issues including decomposition process and its environmental effect of seafloor NGH and origin and evolution of life of the seep community in western marine area of Pearl River Mouth Basin. It will facilitate guiding and promoting the research on cold seep geology and ecological environment of China's marine areas. Third, it fully reflects the leading role of sci-tech innovation. The discovery of "Haima Cold Seep" is attributed to successful application of indigenous "Haima" ROV, which is developed under the coordination of Guangzhou Marine Geological Survey of CGS. "Haima", with a maximum diving depth of 4,500m, is the remote operated vehicle with largest system, deepest diving depth and highest parts localization rate in China up to now, marking that China has possessed key technology of ROV-based deep marine area detection and has realized rapid transformation of scientific research achievement into practical capacity of geological survey.