Carbon Cycling Within the Upper Methanogenic Zone of Continental-rise Sediments: An Example from the Methane-rich Sediments Overlying the Blake Ridge Gas Hydrate Deposits


Physics, Geosciences, and Astronomy

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Data from piston cores collected from Carolina Rise and Blake Ridge, and from many DSDP/ODP sites indicate that extreme 13C-depletion of methane and ΣCO2 occurs within the uppermost methanogenic zone of continental rise sediments. We infer that 13C-depleted methane is generated near the top of the methanogenic zone when carbon of 13C-depleted ΣCO2, produced by microbially-mediated anaerobic methane oxidation, is recycled back to methane through CO2 reduction. Interstitial water and gas samples were collected in 27 piston cores, 16 of which penetrated through the sulfate reduction zone into methane-bearing sediments of the Carolina Rise and Blake Ridge. Isotopic measurements (δ13CCH4, δ13CCO2, δDCH4, and δDH2O) indicate that this methane is microbial in origin, produced by microbially-mediated CO2 reduction. Methane samples form two distinct isotopic pools. (1) Methane from a seafloor seep site shows a mean δ13CCH4 value of − 69 ± 2%., mirroring values found at ≥ 160 mbsf from a nearby DSDP site. (2) Twenty, areally-separated sites (sample depth, 10 to 25 mbsf) have δ13CCH4 values ranging from −85 to −103%., and δ13CCO2 as negative as −48%.. The very low δ13C values from the methane and CO2 pools highlight the importance of carbon cycling within continental rise sediments at and near the sulfate-methane boundary.

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Marine Chemistry