Kinetics of organic carbon mineralization and methane formation in marine sediments (Aarhus Bay, Denmark).

Dale, Andrew W. , Flury, S. , Fossing, H., Regnier, P., Røy, H., Scholze, C. and Jørgensen, B. B. (2019) Kinetics of organic carbon mineralization and methane formation in marine sediments (Aarhus Bay, Denmark). Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 252 . pp. 159-178. DOI 10.1016/j.gca.2019.02.033.

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Abstract

Sediments were sampled at nine stations on a transect across a 7–10 m thick Holocene mud layer in Aarhus Bay, Denmark, to investigate the linkages between CH4 dynamics and the rate and depth distribution of organic matter degradation. High-resolution sulfate reduction rates determined by tracer experiments (35S-SRR) decreased by several orders of magnitude down through the mud layer. The rates showed a power law dependency on sediment age: SRR (nmol cm−3 d−1) = 106.18 × Age−2.17. The rate data were used to independently quantify enhanced SO42− transport by bioirrigation. Field data (SO42–, TCO2, T13CO2, NH4+ and CH4 concentrations) could be simulated with a reaction-transport model using the derived bioirrigation rates and assuming that the power law was continuous into the methanogenic sediments below the sulfate-methane transition zone (SMTZ). The model predicted an increase in anaerobic organic carbon mineralization rates across the transect from 2410 to 3540 nmol C cm−2 d−1 caused by an increase in the sediment accumulation rate. Although methanogenesis accounted for only ∼1% of carbon mineralization, a large relative increase in methanogenesis along the transect led to a considerable shallowing of the SMTZ from 428 to 257 cm. Methane gas bubbles appeared once a threshold in the sedimentation accumulation rate was surpassed.

The 35S-measured SRR data indicated active sulfate reduction throughout the SO42− zone whereas quasi-linear SO42− gradients over the same zone indicated insignificant sulfate reduction. This apparent inconsistency, observed at all stations, was reconciled by considering the transport of SO42− into the sediment by bioirrigation, which accounted for 94 ± 2% of the total SO42− flux across the sediment-water interface. The SRR determined from the quasi-linear SO42− gradients were two orders of magnitude lower than measured rates. We conclude that models solely based on SO42− concentration gradients will not capture high SRRs at the top of the sulfate reduction zone if they do not properly account for (i) SO42− influx by bioirrigation, and/or (ii) the continuity of organic matter reactivity with sediment depth or age.

Document Type: Article
Funder compliance: info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/EC/H2020/776810 ; info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/EC/FP7/217246
Keywords: Marine, Seabed, Gas accumulation, Methanogenesis, Sulfate reduction, Organic matter mineralization kinetics, Bioirrigation, Model
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-MG Marine Geosystems
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.gca.2019.02.033
ISSN: 0016-7037
Projects: BALTIC GAS, MICROENERGY, VERIFY, BONUS
Date Deposited: 02 Apr 2019 09:51
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2019 07:01
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/46260

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