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The geomicrobiology of deep marine sediments from Blake Ridge containing methane hydrate (Sites 994, 995, and 997)

Wellsbury, Peter, Goodman, K., Cragg, Barry Andrew and Parkes, Ronald John 2000. The geomicrobiology of deep marine sediments from Blake Ridge containing methane hydrate (Sites 994, 995, and 997). Proceedings of the Ocean Drilling Program Scientific Results 164 , pp. 379-391. 10.2973/odp.proc.sr.164.216.2000

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Abstract

Bacterial populations and activity were quantifid at three sites on the Blake Ridge, Ocean Drilling Program Leg 164, which formed a transect from a point where no bottom-simulating reflector (BSR) was present to an area where a well-developed BSR existed. In near-surface sediments (top ~ 10 mbsf) at Sites 994 and 995, bacterial profiles were similar to previously studied deep-sea sites, with bacterial populations (total and dividing bacteria, viable bacteria, and growth rates [thymidine incorporatio]) highest in surface sedients and decreasing exponentially with depth. The presence of methane hydrate was inferred at depth (~ 190-450 mbsf) within the sediment at all three sites. Associated with these deposits were high concentrations of free methane beneath the inferred base of the hydrate. Bacteria were present in all samples analyzed, to a maximum of 750 mbsf, extending the previous known limit of the deep biosphere in marine sediments by ~ 100 m. Even at this depth, the population was substantial, at 1.8 x 10 (6) cells mL-1. Bacterial populations and numbers of dividing and divided cells were stimulated significantly below the base of the inferred hydrate zone, which may also reflect high concentrations of free gas. Solid methane hydrate, recovered from 331 mbsf at Site 997, contained only 2% of the predicted bacterial population n a sediment from this depth, suggesting reduced bacterial populations in solid hydrate. Bacterial activity in near-surface sediments was dominated by sulfate reduction. Sulfate reduction rates and pore-water sulfate decreased rapidly with depth, concomitant with an accumulation of soild-phase sulfide in the sediment. Once sulfate was depleted (~20-30 mbsf), methane concentrations, methanogenesis, and methane oxidation all increased. Below 100 mbsf, bacterial processes occurred at very low rates. However, bacterial activity increased sharply around 450 mbsf, associated with the base of the inferred hydrate zone and the free-gas zone beneath; anaerobic methane oxidation, methanogenesis from both acetate an H2:CO2, acetate oxidation, sulfate reduction and bacterial productivity were all stimulated (from 1.5 to 15 times), demonstrating that the sediments near and below the BSR form a biogeochemically dynamic zone, with carbon cycling occurring through methane, acetate, and carbon dioxide. At Site 995, pore water acetate was present in surprisingly high concentrations, reaching ~ 15 mM at 691 mbsf, ~ 1000 times higher than "typical" near-surface concentrations (2-20 uM). Potential rates of acetate metabolism were extremely high and could not be sustained without influx of organic carbon into the sediment; hence in situ rates are likely to be lower than these potential rate measurements. However, there is evidence for upward migration of high concentrations of dissolved organic carbon into the sediments at these sites. Rates of acetate methanogenesis below the BSR were 2-3 orders of magnitude higher than H2:CO2 methanogenesis and were associated with extremely high quantities of free gas. Methane oxidation rates at the base of the hydrate zone at Site 995 were 10 times greater than H2:CO2 methanogenesis. However, acetate methanogenesis at Site 995 exceeded methane oxidation through and below the BSR, potentially providing an unexpected source of methane gas for the formation of hydrates, These results confirm and extend previous results from Cascadia Margin, demonstrating that gas hydrate-containing sediments provide a unique deep bacterial habitat in marine sediments.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Ocean Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QE Geology
Q Science > QR Microbiology
Publisher: Ocean Drilling Program
ISSN: 1096-7451
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2019 02:18
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/8679

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