Transport and consumption of oxygen and methane in different habitats of the Håkon Mosby Mud Volcano (HMMV)

Felden, J., F. Wenzhöfer, T. Feseker, and A. Boetius

Limnol. Oceanogr., 55(6), 2010, 2366-2380 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2010.55.6.2366

ABSTRACT: The Håkon Mosby Mud Volcano is a highly active methane seep hosting different chemosynthetic communities such as thiotrophic bacterial mats and siboglinid tubeworm assemblages. This study focuses on in situ measurements of methane fluxes to and from these different habitats, in comparison to benthic methane and oxygen consumption rates. By quantifying in situ oxygen, methane, and sulfide fluxes in different habitats, a spatial budget covering areas of 10-1000-m diameter was established. The range of dissolved methane efflux (770- 2 mmol m-2 d-1) from the center to the outer rim was associated with a decrease in temperature gradients from 46°C m-1 to < 1°C m-1, indicating that spatial variations in fluid flow control the distribution of benthic habitats and activities. Accordingly, total oxygen uptake (TOU) varied between the different habitats by one order of magnitude from 15 m-2 d-1 to 161 m-2 d-1. High fluid flow rates appeared to suppress benthic activities by limiting the availability of electron acceptors. Accordingly, the highest TOU was associated with the lowest fluid flow and methane efflux. This was most likely due to the aerobic oxidation of methane, which may be more relevant as a sink for methane as previously considered in submarine ecosystems.

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