In situ fluxes and zonation of microbial activity in surface sediments of the Håkon Mosby Mud Volcano

D. de Beer, E. Sauter, H. Niemann, N. Kaul, J. -. P. Foucher, Ursula Felicitas Marianne Witte, M. Schlueter, A. Boetius

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160 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

From the Hakon Mosby Mud Volcano (HMMV) on the southwest Barents Sea shelf, gas and fluids are expelled by active mud volcanism. We studied the mass transfer phenomena and microbial conversions in the surface layers using in situ microsensor measurements and on retrieved cores. The HMMV consists of three concentric habitats: a central area with gray mud, a surrounding area covered by white mats of big sulfide oxidizing filamentous bacteria (Beggiatoa), and a peripheral area colonized by symbiontic tube worms (Pogonophora). A fourth habitat comprised gray microbial mats near gas seeps. The differences between these four methane-fueled habitats are best explained by different transport rates of sulfate into the sediments and pore-water upflow rates. The upflow velocities were estimated by two independent methods at 3-6 m yr(-1) in the central area and 0.3 - 1 m yr(-1) in Beggialoa mats. In the central area no sulfide was found, indicating that the rapidly rising sulfate-free fluids caused sulfate limitation that inhibited anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM). Under Beggiatoa mats a steep sulfide peak was found at 2 to 3 cm below the seafloor (bsf), most likely due to AOM. All sulfide was oxidized anaerobically, possibly through nitrate reduction by Beggiatoa. The Beggiatoa mats were dominated by a single Filamentous morphotype with a diameter of 10 mu m and abundant sulfur inclusions. A high diversity of sulfide oxidizer morphotypes was observed in a grayish microbial mat near gas vents. where aerobic sulfide oxidation was important. The sediments colonized by Pogonophora were influenced by bioventilation, allowing sulfate penetration and AOM to 70 cm bsf. The HMMV is a unique and diverse ecosystem, the structure and functioning of which is mainly controlled by pore-water flow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1315-1331
Number of pages16
JournalLimnology and Oceanography
Volume51
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2006

Keywords

  • DEEP-SEA SEDIMENTS
  • METHANE HYDRATE DEPOSITS
  • FLUID-FLOW
  • BIOGEOCHEMICAL TURNOVER
  • ANAEROBIC OXIDATION
  • CASCADIA MARGIN
  • OXYGEN-UPTAKE
  • COLD SEEPS
  • RIDGE
  • MICROSENSOR

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