Geochemical characterization of two distinctive systems with evidence of chemosynthetic activity, explored at the SE Pacific margin off Chile (46°S and 33°S).

Muñoz, Práxedes, Cárdenas, Lissette J., Garbe-Schönberg, Dieter, Sellanes, Javier, Dezileau, Laurent, Melville, Ives and Mendes, Stephanie D. (2016) Geochemical characterization of two distinctive systems with evidence of chemosynthetic activity, explored at the SE Pacific margin off Chile (46°S and 33°S). Progress in Oceanography, 148 . pp. 26-43. DOI 10.1016/j.pocean.2016.09.002.

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Abstract

This study presents the geochemical composition of superficial sediment under oxic and suboxic bottom water conditions along the Chilean continental margin (SE Pacific), where evidence for benthic chemosynthetic activity associated with diffuse seeping of chemically reduced fluids has been reported. The exploration was carried out at: (1) the Chilean Triple Junction (CTJ), at a water depth of ∼2900 m, with the additional indication of hydrothermal activity near a methane-rich cold-seep area (46°S) (German et al., 2010); and (2) the El Quisco methane seep site (EQSS), at ∼340 m water depth (33°S) (Melo et al., 2007; Krylova et al., 2014). While the deeper CTJ is located within an oxic environment (dissolved oxygen in the bottom waters: 164 μM), the shallower EQSS lies within a suboxic environment (dissolved oxygen in bottom water: 23 μM), located within the lower limit of the SE Pacific oxygen minimum zone (OMZ).

Pore water from short cores was analyzed for dissolved major, minor, and trace elements (Cl, Na, Mg, K, Ca, Sr, Si, B, P, Ba, Pb, Mn, Fe, Cd, U, and Mo), δ13DIC, sulfide, sulfate, and methane. The solid sediment fraction was likewise analyzed for total organic carbon (TOC), metals, and redox potential. Elevated sediment temperatures were found in superficial sediments (5-13 °C) at the CTJ site, which could be due to warm fluids associated with the proximity of the ridge, where hydrothermal vents may occur. Reduced fluids were also present here, indicated by higher Mn fluxes toward the water column even in oxidized sediments (RPD > 8 cm), which contrasted with the lower fluxes in reduced sediments of the EQSS site (RPD ∼ 2 cm). 13C-depleted DIC, anomalously low pore water Cl (∼15 ppb), and low concentrations of other major elements may be the result of dilution by fluid seeping and precipitation of major elements, producing authigenic enrichment (Ca, Mg, Sr). The fluid could also: (a) be diluted by pure water produced during methane hydrate dissociation, as observed in other cold-seep areas; and (b) correspond to clay mineral dehydration, as reported in plate subduction systems. The reducing conditions established at the CTJ conduct the Cd enrichment at a similar magnitude of that seen at the shallower suboxic site (EQSS). Evidence of chimney or vent fauna was not observed. At the EQSS, higher TOC and total sulfide contents were consistent with enhanced deposition of organic matter and reducing conditions developed in the OMZ, favoring the authigenic enrichment of Cd, U and Pb. The geochemical evidence, based only on methane concentrations and δ13DIC, is insufficient to establish the presence of methane seeps, as previously reported.

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence > FO-R07
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
Kiel University
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.pocean.2016.09.002
ISSN: 0079-6611
Projects: Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2017 10:42
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2019 03:47
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/36702

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