Chemoherms on hydrate ridge - unique microbially-mediated carbonate build-ups growing into the water column

Teichert, Barbara M. A., Bohrmann, Gerhard and Suess, Erwin (2005) Chemoherms on hydrate ridge - unique microbially-mediated carbonate build-ups growing into the water column Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, 227 (1-3). pp. 67-85. DOI 10.1016/j.palaeo.2005.04.029.

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Two active chemoherm build-ups growing freely up into the oceanic water column, the Pinnacle and the South East-Knoll Chemoherms, have been discovered at Hydrate Ridge on the Cascadia continental margin. These microbially-mediated carbonate formations rise above the seafloor by several tens of meters and display a pinnacle-shaped morphology with steep flanks. The recovered rocks are pure carbonates dominated by aragonite. Based on fabric and mineralogic composition different varieties of authigenic aragonite can be distinguished. Detailed visual and petrographic investigations unambiguously reveal the involvement of microbes during the formation of the carbonates. The fabric of the cryptocrystalline and fibrous aragonite can be described as thrombolitic. Fossilized microbial filaments in the microcrystalline aragonite indicate the intimate relationship between microbes and carbonates. The strongly 13C-depleted carbon isotope values of the samples (as low as − 48.1 ‰ PDB) are characteristic of methane as the major carbon source for the carbonate formation. The methane-rich fluids from which the carbonates are precipitated originate most probably from a gas reservoir below the bottom-simulating reflector (BSR) and rise through fault systems. The δ18O values of the aragonitic chemoherm carbonates are substantially higher (as high as 5.0 ‰ PDB) than the expected equilibrium value for an aragonite forming from ambient seawater (3.5 ‰ PDB). As a first approximation this indicates formation from glacial ocean water but other factors are considered as well. A conceptual model is presented for the precipitation of these chemoherm carbonates based on in situ observations and the detailed petrographic investigation of the carbonates. This model explains the function of the consortium of archaea and sulfate-reducing bacteria that grows on the carbonates performing anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) and enabling the precipitation of the chemoherms above the seafloor surrounded by oxic seawater. Beggiatoa mats growing on the surface of the chemoherms oxidize the sulfide provided by sulfate-dependent anaerobic oxidation of methane within an oxic environment. The contact between Beggiatoa and the underlying microbial consortium represents the interface between the overlying oxic water column and an anoxic micro-environment where carbonate formation takes place.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: Hydrate Ridge; Chemoherm; Aragonite; Methane-seep; Anaerobic oxidation of methane; Stable isotopes; ROPOS; SO148; RV Sonne
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-MG Marine Geosystems
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2005.04.029
ISSN: 0031-0182
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2008 16:52
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2017 13:51

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