Organic biogeochemistry in West Mata, NE Kau hydrothermal vent fields
Butterfield, David A.
Baker, Edward T.
Resing, Joseph A.
Huber, Julie A.
Cowen, James P.
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Keyworddissolved organic carbon (DOC); dissolved organic nitrogen (DON); hydrothermal vent fluids and plumes; particulate nitrogen (PN); particulate organic carbon isotopes (δ13C-POC); thermodynamic prediction
The impact of submarine hydrothermal systems on organic carbon in the ocean—one of the largest fixed carbon reservoirs on Earth—could be profound. Yet, different vent sites show diverse fluid chemical compositions and the subsequent biological responses. Observations from various vent sites are to evaluate hydrothermal systems' impact on the ocean carbon cycle. A response cruise in May 2009 to an on-going submarine eruption at West Mata Volcano, northeast Lau Basin, provided an opportunity to quantify the organic matter production in a back-arc spreading hydrothermal system. Hydrothermal vent fluids contained elevated dissolved organic carbon, particulate organic carbon (POC), and particulate nitrogen (PN) relative to background seawater. The δ13C-POC values for suspended particles in the diffuse vent fluids (−15.5‰ and −12.3‰) are distinct from those in background seawater (−23 ± 1‰), indicative of unique carbon synthesis pathways of the vent microbes from the seawater counterparts. The first dissolved organic nitrogen concentrations reported for diffuse vents were similar to or higher than those for background seawater. Enhanced nitrogen fixation and denitrification removed 37%–89% of the total dissolved nitrogen in the recharging background seawater in the hydrothermal vent flow paths. The hydrothermal plume samples were enriched in POC and PN, indicating enhanced biological production. The total “dark” organic carbon production within the plume matches the thermodynamic prediction based on available reducing chemical substances supplied to the plume. This research combines the measured organic carbon contents with thermodynamic modeled results and demonstrates the importance of hydrothermal activities on the water column carbon production in the deep ocean.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2021. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 22(4), (2021): e2020GC009481, https://doi.org/10.1029/2020GC009481.
Suggested CitationLin, H. -., Butterfield, D. A., Baker, E. T., Resing, J. A., Huber, J. A., & Cowen, J. P. (2021). Organic biogeochemistry in West Mata, NE Kau hydrothermal vent fields. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 22(4), e2020GC009481.
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