New evidence for a mixed inorganic and organic origin of the Olympic Chimaera fire (Turkey): a large onshore seepage of abiogenic gas


Corresponding author: H. Hosgormez, Department of Geological Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Istanbul University, Avcılar, Istanbul, Turkey.
Email: Tel: +90 212 473 70 770 / 17575. Fax: +90 212 4737179.


The Chimaera gas seep, near Antalya (SW Turkey), has been continuously active for thousands of years and it is known to be the source of the first Olympic fire in the Hellenistic period. New and thorough molecular and isotopic analyses including methane (approximately 87% v/v; δ13C1 from −7.9‰ to −12.3‰; δ13D1 from −119‰ to −124‰), light alkanes (C2 + C3 + C4 + C5 = 0.5%; C6+: 0.07%; δ13C2 from −24.2‰ to −26.5‰; δ13C3 from −25.5‰ to −27‰), hydrogen (7.5–11%), carbon dioxide (0.01–0.07%; δ13CCO2: −15‰), helium (approximately 80 ppmv; R/Ra: 0.41) and nitrogen (2–4.9%; δ15N from −2‰ to −2.8‰) converge to indicate that the seep releases a mixture of organic thermogenic gas, related to mature type III kerogen occurring in Palaeozoic and Mesozoic organic-rich sedimentary rocks, and abiogenic gas produced by low-temperature serpentinization in the Tekirova ophiolitic unit. Methane is not related to mantle or magma degassing. The abiogenic fraction accounts for about half of the total gas released, which is estimated to be well beyond 50 ton year−1. Ophiolites and limestones are in contact along a tectonic dislocation leading to gas mixing and migration to the Earth’s surface. Chimaera represents the biggest emission of abiogenic methane on land discovered so far. Deep and pressurized gas accumulations are necessary to sustain the Chimaera gas flow for thousands of years and are likely to have been charged by an active inorganic source.