Discovery and mapping of the Triton seep site, Redondo Knoll: fluid flow and microbial colonization within an oxygen minimum zone
Wagner, Jamie K.S.
German, Christopher R.
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This paper examines a deep-water (∼900 m) cold-seep discovered in a low oxygen environment ∼30 km off the California coast in 2015 during an E/V Nautilus telepresence-enabled cruise. This Triton site was initially detected from bubble flares identified via shipboard multibeam sonar and was then confirmed visually using the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Hercules. High resolution mapping (to 1 cm resolution) and co-registered imaging has provided us with a comprehensive site overview – both of the geologic setting and the extent of the associated microbial colonization. The Triton site represents an active cold-seep where microorganisms can act as primary producers at the base of a chemosynthesis-driven food chain. But it is also located near the core of a local oxygen minimum zone (OMZ), averaging <0.75 μM oxygen, which is significantly below average ocean levels (180–270 μM) and, indeed, extreme even among OMZs as a whole which are defined to occur at all oxygen concentrations <22 μM. Extensive microbial mats, extending for >100 m across the seafloor, dominate the site, while typical seep-endemic macro-fauna were noticeably absent from our co-registered photographic and high-resolution mapping surveys – especially when compared to all adjacent seep sites within the same California Borderlands region. While such absences of abundant macro-fauna could be attributable to variations in the availability of dissolved oxygen in the overlying water column this need not necessarily be the case. An alternate possibility is that the zonation in microbial activity that is readily observable at the seafloor at Triton reflects, instead, a concentric pattern of radially diminishing fluxes of reductants from the underlying seafloor. This unusual but readily accessible discovery, in close proximity to Los Angeles harbor, provides an intriguing new natural laboratory at which to examine biogeochemical and microbiological interactions associated with the functioning of cold seep ecosystems within an OMZ.
© The Author(s), 2020. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Wagner, J. K. S., Smart, C., & German, C. R. Discovery and mapping of the Triton seep site, Redondo Knoll: fluid flow and microbial colonization within an oxygen minimum zone. Frontiers in Marine Science, 7, (2020): 108, doi:10.3389/fmars.2020.00108.
Suggested CitationWagner, J. K. S., Smart, C., & German, C. R. (2020). Discovery and mapping of the Triton seep site, Redondo Knoll: fluid flow and microbial colonization within an oxygen minimum zone. Frontiers in Marine Science, 7, 108.
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