Marine cold seeps and their manifestations: geological control, biogeochemical criteria and environmental conditions

Suess, Erwin (2014) Marine cold seeps and their manifestations: geological control, biogeochemical criteria and environmental conditions International Journal of Earth Sciences, 103 (7). pp. 1889-1916. DOI 10.1007/s00531-014-1010-0.

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Abstract

Characteristics of cold seeps at different geologic settings are the subject of this review primarily based on results of the Research Consortium SFB 574. Criteria are drawn from examples on the erosive convergent margin off Costa Rica, the accretionary margin off Chile supplemented by examples from the transform margin of the Golf of Cadiz and the convergent Hikurangi margin off New Zealand. Others are from well-studied passive margins of the Black Sea, the Golf of Mexico, the eastern Mediterranean Sea and the South China Sea. Seeps at all settings transport water and dissolved compounds to the ocean through the seafloor by different forcing mechanism and from different depths of the submerged geosphere (10s of meters to 10s of km). The compounds sustain oasis-type ecosystems by providing bioactive reductants sulfide, methane and hydrogen. Hereby, the interaction between fluid composition, flux rates and biota results in a diagnostic hydrocarbon–metazoan–microbe–carbonate association; currently, well over 100 active sites are known. The single most important reaction is microbially mediated anaerobic oxidation of methane with secondary reactions involving S-biogeochemistry and carbonate mineral precipitation. Seep fluids and their seafloor manifestations provide clues as to source depth, fluid–sediment/rock interaction during ascent, lifetime and cyclicity of seepage events but less so on the magnitude of return flow. At erosive margins, Cl-depleted and B-enriched fluids from clay dehydration provide criteria for source depth and temperature. The upward material flow generates mud volcanoes at the seafloor above the projected location of dehydration at depth. At accretionary margins, fluids are derived from more shallow depths by compaction of sediments as they ride on the incoming oceanic plate; they are emitted through thrust faults. At highly sedimented margins, organic-rich and evaporite-containing strata (when present) determine the final fluid composition, by emitting characteristically gas hydrate-derived methane, brine-associated non-methane hydrocarbons or leached elements and their isotopes (Li, δ7Li, B, Ba) from host sediments. Smectite–illite transformation and associated Cl-depletion from release of interlayer water is a pervasive process at these margins. Rare earth element pattern in conjunction with redox-sensitive metals retained in seep carbonates indicate whether or not they precipitated in contact with oxic bottom water or suboxic fluids; clear environmental characterization, though, currently remains inconclusive. More deeply sourced fluids as in transform margins may be characterized by their 87Sr/86Sr ratios from interaction with oceanic crustal rocks below. Quantification of flow and reliable estimates of total volatile output from fore-arcs remain a challenge to seep research, as does understanding the role of geologically derived methane in the global methane cycle.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: WOS:000343216700011
Keywords: Seep carbonates ; Fore-arc fluids ; Global seeps ; Biota–carbonate association ; Active margin fluids ; Passive margin seeps
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-MG Marine Geosystems
OceanRep > SFB 574
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1007/s00531-014-1010-0
ISSN: 1437-3254
Contribution Number:
ProjectNumber
SFB 574265
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2014 11:33
Last Modified: 18 May 2017 13:07
URI: http://eprints.uni-kiel.de/id/eprint/25728

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