Hydrate formation and growth in pores

Jong Won Jung*, J. Carlos Santamarina

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Gas hydrates consist of guest gas molecules encaged in water cages. Methane hydrate forms in marine and permafrost sediments. In this study, we use optical, mechanical and electrical measurements to monitor hydrate formation and growth in small pores to better understand the hydrate pore habit in hydrate-bearing sediments. Hydrate formation in capillary tubes exposes the complex and dynamic interactions between nucleation, gas diffusion and gas solubility. The observation of hydrate growth in a droplet between transparent plates shows that the hydrate shell does not grow homogeneously but advances in the form of lobes that invade the water phase; in fact, the hydrate shell must be discontinuous and possibly cracked to justify the relatively fast growth rates observed in these experiments. Volume expansion during hydrate formation causes water to flow out of menisci; expelled water either spreads on the surface of water-wet substrates and forms a thin hydrate sheet, or remains next to menisci when substrates are oil-wet. Hydrate formation is accompanied by ion exclusion, yet, there is an overall increase in electrical resistance during hydrate formation. Hydrate growth may become salt-limited in trapped water conditions; in this case, aqueous brine and gas CH 4 may be separated by hydrate and the three-phase system remains stable within the pore space of sediments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-68
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Crystal Growth
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 15 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • A1. Crystal morphology
  • A1. Growth models
  • A1. Nucleation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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