The flux and distribution of methane (CH4) was investigated in the seawater column at 14 stations in the Gunsan Basin, the southeastern part of Yellow Sea from 2013 to 2015. Here CH4 is concentrated 2.4-4.7 (3.4 ± 0.7) nM in the surface and 2.5-7.4 (5.2 ± 1.7) nM in the bottom layer. The CH4 saturation ratios ranged from 65.5% to 295.5% (162.6 ± 68.7), comprising the mean sea-to-air CH4 flux of 3.8 to 25.3 (15.6 ± 5.5) µM m-2d-1. Methane concentration was largely different in the upper and the lower seawater layers that is separated by the thermocline of which depth is variable (20-60 m) depending on the time of sampling. The concentration of seawater dissolved CH4 is high between the bottom surface of the thermocline layer and the sea floor. Generally it tends to decrease from the south-westernmost part of the basin toward the west coast of Korea. This distribution pattern of CH4 seems to result from the CH4 supply by decomposition of organic matters produced in the upper seawater layer that is superimposed by the larger supply from the underlying sediment layer especially beneath the thermocline. The latter is manifested by ubiquitous CH4 seeps from the seafloor sediments.
Keywords: Flux and distribution of methane; gunsan basin; seafloor sediments; seawater layer; yellow sea.