Silica clathrate compounds (clathrasils) and clathrate hydrates are structurally analogous because both materials have framework structures with cage-like voids occupied by guest species. The following three structural types of clathrate hydrates are recognized in nature: cubic structure I (sI); cubic structure II (sII); and hexagonal structure H (sH). In contrast, only one naturally occurring silica clathrate mineral, melanophlogite (sI-type framework), has been found to date. Here, we report the discovery of two new silica clathrate minerals that are isostructural with sII and sH hydrates and contain hydrocarbon gases. Geological and mineralogical observations show that these silica clathrate minerals are traces of low-temperature hydrothermal systems at convergent plate margins, which are the sources of thermogenic natural gas hydrates. Given the widespread occurrence of submarine hydrocarbon seeps, silica clathrate minerals are likely to be found in a wide range of marine sediments.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)