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Evidence and biogeochemical implications for glacially-derived sediments in an active margin cold seep

July 21, 2011

Delineating sediment organic matter origins and sediment accumulation rates at gas hydratebearing and hydrocarbon seeps is complicated by the microbial transfer of 13C-depleted and 14Cdepleted methane carbon into sedimentary pools. Sediment 13C and 14C measurements from four cores recovered at Bullseye vent on the northern Cascadia margin are used to identify methane carbon assimilation into different carbon pools. While the total organic carbon (TOC) is mostly unaltered and primarily terrigenous in origin, planktonic foraminifera and the bulk carbonate display evidence of methane overprinting. Mass balance models are applied to determine the extent to which methane overprinting increased the radiocarbon ages of the biogenic foraminifera. The corrected and calibrated foraminifera ages between sediment depths of 70 and 573 cm are from 14.9 to 15.9 ka BP, which coincides with the retreat of the late Quaternary Cordilleran Ice Sheet from Vancouver Island. Uniform TOC _13C values of -24.5 ± 0.5‰ from the upper 8 meters of sediment at Bullseye vent suggest all cored material is Pleistocene-derived glacimarine material deposited as the ice edge retreated landward. Bullseye vent is located within an uplifted sediment block isolated from turbidite deposition and has been a site of non-deposition since the ice sheet retreated from the shelf. Biogeochemical implications of seep sediments being dominated by aged, organic-poor (<0.4 wt% TOC) material are that methane is the primary energy source, and microbes directly and indirectly associated with the anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) will dominate the seep microbial community.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2011
Title Evidence and biogeochemical implications for glacially-derived sediments in an active margin cold seep
Authors John W. Pohlman, Michael Riedel, Ivana Novosel, James E. Bauer, Elizabeth A. Canuel, Charles K. Paull, Richard B. Coffin, Kenneth S. Grabowski, David L. Knies, Roy D. Hyndman, George D. Spence
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Series Title
Series Number
Index ID 70156778
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center