In situ benthic fluxes from an intermittently active mud volcano at the Costa Rica convergent margin

Linke, Peter, Wallmann, Klaus, Suess, Erwin, Hensen, Christian and Rehder, Gregor (2005) In situ benthic fluxes from an intermittently active mud volcano at the Costa Rica convergent margin Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 235 . pp. 79-95. DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2005.03.009.

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Along the erosive convergent margin off Costa Rica a large number of mound-shaped structures exist built by mud diapirism or mud volcanism. One of these, Mound 12, an intermittently active mud volcano, currently emits large amounts of aqueous dissolved species and water. Chemosynthetic vent communities, authigenic carbonates, and methane plumes in the water column are manifestations of that activity. Benthic flux measurements were obtained by a video-guided Benthic Chamber Lander (BCL) deployed at a vent site located in the most active part of Mound 12. The lander was equipped with 4 independent chambers covering adjacent areas of the seafloor. Benthic fluxes were recorded by repeated sampling of the enclosed bottom waters while the underlying surface sediments were recovered with the lander after a deployment time of one day. One of the chambers was placed directly in the centre of an active vent marked by the occurrence of a bacterial mat while the other chambers were located at the fringe of the same vent system at a lateral distance of only 40 cm. A transport-reaction model was developed and applied to describe the concentration profiles in the pore water of the recovered surface sediments and the temporal evolution of the enclosed bottom water. Repeated model runs revealed that the best fit to the pore water and benthic chamber data is obtained with a flow velocity of 10 cm yr− 1 at the centre of the vent. The flux rates to the bottom water are strongly modified by the benthic turnover (benthic filter). The methane flux from below at the bacterial mat site is as high as 1032 μmol cm− 2 yr− 1, out of which 588 μmol cm− 2 yr− 1 is oxidised in the surface sediments by microbial consortia using sulphate as terminal electron acceptor and 440 μmol cm− 2 yr− 1 are seeping into the overlaying bottom water. Sulphide is transported to the surface by ascending fluids (238 μmol cm− 2 yr− 1) and is formed within the surface sediment by the anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM, 588 μmol cm− 2 yr− 1). However, sulphide is not released into the bottom water but completely oxidized by oxygen and nitrate at the sediment/water interface. The oxygen and nitrate fluxes into the sediment are high (781 and 700 μmol cm− 2 yr− 1, respectively) and are mainly driven by the microbial oxidation of sulphide. Benthic fluxes were much lower in the other chambers placed in the fringe of the vent system. Thus, methane and oxygen fluxes of only 28 and 89 μmol cm− 2 yr− 1, respectively were recorded in one of these chambers. Our study shows that the aerobic oxidation of methane is much less efficient than the anaerobic oxidation of methane so that methane which is not oxidized within the sediment by AOM is almost completely released into the bottom water. Hence, anaerobic rather than aerobic methane oxidation plays the major role in the regulation of benthic methane fluxes. Moreover, we demonstrate that methane and oxygen fluxes at cold vent sites may vary up to 3 orders of magnitude over a lateral distance of only 40 cm indicating an extreme focussing of fluid flow and methane release at the seafloor.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: benthic fluxes; methane; mud volcano; Costa Rica margin
Research affiliation: OceanRep > SFB 574 > B1
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-MG Marine Geosystems
OceanRep > SFB 574 > B2
OceanRep > SFB 574
OceanRep > SFB 574 > B4
OceanRep > SFB 574 > B5
OceanRep > SFB 574 > B3
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.epsl.2005.03.009
ISSN: 0012-821X
Contribution Number:
SFB 57451
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2008 16:50
Last Modified: 21 Dec 2016 08:51

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