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Microbial methane turnover at mud volcanoes of the Gulf of Cadiz

Niemann, H. and Duarte, J. and Hensen, C. and Omoregie, E. and Magalhães, V. H. and Elvert, M. and Pinheiro, L. M. and Kopf, A. and Boetius, A.. (2006) Microbial methane turnover at mud volcanoes of the Gulf of Cadiz. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 70 (21). pp. 5336-5355.

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Abstract

The Gulf of Cadiz is a tectonically active area of the European continental margin and characterised by a high abundance of mud volcanoes, diapirs, pockmarks and carbonate chimneys. During the R/V SONNE expedition "GAP-Gibraltar Arc Processes (SO-175)" in December 2003, several mud volcanoes were surveyed for gas seepage and associated microbial methane turnover. Pore water analyses and methane oxidation measurements on sediment cores recovered from the centres of the mud volcanoes Captain Arutyunov, Bonjardim, Ginsburg, Gemini and a newly discovered, mud volcano-like structure called "No Name" show that thermogenic methane and associated higher hydrocarbons rising from deeper sediment strata are completely consumed within the seabed. The presence of a distinct sulphate-methane transition zone (SMT) overlapping with high sulphide concentrations suggests that methane oxidation is mediated under anaerobic conditions with sulphate as the electron acceptor. Anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) and sulphate reduction (SR) rates show maxima at the SMT, which was found between 20 and 200 cm below seafloor at the different mud volcanoes. In comparison to other methane seeps, AOM activity (-2 year-1) and diffusive methane fluxes (-2 year-1) in mud volcano sediments of the Gulf of Cadiz are low to mid range. Corresponding lipid biomarker and 16S rDNA clone library analysis give evidence that AOM is mediated by a mixed community of anaerobic methanotrophic archaea and associated sulphate reducing bacteria (SRB) in the studied mud volcanoes. Little is known about the variability of methane fluxes in this environment. Carbonate crusts littering the seafloor of mud volcanoes in the northern part of the Gulf of Cadiz had strongly 13C-depleted lipid signatures indicative of higher seepage activities in the past. However, actual seafloor video observations showed only scarce traces of methane seepage and associated biological processes at the seafloor. No active fluid or free gas escape to the hydrosphere was observed visually at any of the surveyed mud volcanoes, and biogeochemical measurements indicate a complete methane consumption in the seafloor. Our observations suggest that the emission of methane to the hydrosphere from the mud volcano structures studied here may be insignificant at present.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Umweltgeowissenschaften > Geochemie Stoffkreisläufe (Lehmann)
UniBasel Contributors:Niemann, Helge
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Bibsysno:Link to catalogue
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0016-7037
e-ISSN:1872-9533
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Language:English
Identification Number:
Last Modified:14 Nov 2017 14:06
Deposited On:22 Mar 2012 14:04

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