Spatial variation in fluid flow and geochemical fluxes across the sediment–seawater interface at the Carlos Ribeiro mud volcano (Gulf of Cadiz)

Vanneste, Heleen; Kelly-Gerreyn, Boris A.; Connelly, Douglas P.; James, Rachael H.; Haeckel, Matthias; Fisher, Rebecca E.; Heeschen, Katja; Mills, Rachel A.. 2011 Spatial variation in fluid flow and geochemical fluxes across the sediment–seawater interface at the Carlos Ribeiro mud volcano (Gulf of Cadiz). Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 75 (4). 1124-1144. 10.1016/j.gca.2010.11.017

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Submarine mud volcanism is an important pathway for transfer of deep-sourced fluids enriched in hydrocarbons and other elements into the ocean. Numerous mud volcanoes (MVs) have been discovered along oceanic plate margins, and integrated elemental fluxes are potentially significant for oceanic chemical budgets. Here, we present the first detailed study of the spatial variation in fluid and chemical fluxes at the Carlos Ribeiro MV in the Gulf of Cadiz. To this end, we combine analyses of the chemical composition of pore fluids with a 1-D transport-reaction model to quantify fluid fluxes, and fluxes of boron, lithium and methane, across the sediment–seawater interface. The pore fluids are significantly depleted in chloride, but enriched in lithium, boron and hydrocarbons, relative to seawater. Pore water profiles of sulphate, hydrogen sulphide and total alkalinity indicate that anaerobic oxidation of methane occurs at 34–180 cm depth below seafloor. Clay mineral dehydration, and in particular the transformation of smectite to illite, produces pore fluids that are depleted in chloride and potassium. Profiles of boron, lithium and potassium are closely related, which suggests that lithium and boron are released from the sediments during this transformation. Pore fluids are expelled into the water column by advection; fluid flow velocities are 4 cm yr−1 at the apex of the MV but they rapidly decrease to 0.4 cm yr−1 at the periphery. The associated fluxes of boron, lithium and methane vary between 7–301, 0.5–6 and 0–806 mmol m−2 yr−1, respectively. We demonstrate that fluxes of Li and B due to mud volcanism may be important on a global scale, however, release of methane into the overlying water column is suppressed by microbial methanotrophy.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.gca.2010.11.017
ISSN: 0016-7037
Date made live: 15 Feb 2011 10:24 +0 (UTC)

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