Indications of methane hydrate have been recognized on reflection seismic sections in the northern sector of the South China Sea. A well defined BSR occurs on reflection seismic sections recorded in the sediments of all continental slopes, particularly in active margin sediment prism (Liu et al., 1993; Chi et al., 1998; Bochu, 1998). Because the likelihood of methane generation is locally excellent in the northern sector of the South China Sea on both active and passive margins, gas hydrate is almost certainly more extensively developed than indicated from our limited database.

We have identified three regions in which significant gas hydrate deposits may occur. Hydrate occurs commonly in the accretionary prism sediments to the south of Taiwan. The greatest likelihood of large hydrate deposits occurs in the tectonically reworked sediments of the passive continental margin in the NE corner of the South China Sea, immediately adjacent to Taiwan, across a very narrow continental shelf. This is the ideal case for eventual commercial exploitation of methane from hydrate and possibly trapped gas concentrations.

Acknowledgements Thanks to the Office of Naval Research, PE 0602435N, for funding the bathymetric and geophysical data analysis. The illustrations in this report were created by Irene Jewett of the Marine Physics Branch at the Naval Research Laboratory.

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