Structure and Drivers of Cold Seep Ecosystems

Type Article
Date 2009-03
Language English
Author(s) Foucher Jean-Paul1, Westbrook Graham K.2, Boetius Antje3, 4, Ceramicola Silvia5, Dupre StephanieORCID, Mascle Jean7, Mienert Jurgen8, Pfannkuche Olaf9, Pierre Catherine6, Praeg Daniel5
Affiliation(s) 1 : Ifremer, Ctr Brest, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
2 : Univ Birmingham, Sch Geog Earth & Environm Sci, Birmingham, W Midlands, England.
3 : Max Planck Inst Marine Microbiol, Habitat Grp, Bremen, Germany.
4 : Univ Bremen, Bremen, Germany.
5 : Ist Nazl Oceanog & Geofis Sperimentale OGS, Sgonico, TS, Italy.
6 : UPMC, LOCEAN, CNRS, Paris, France.
7 : Observ Oceanol Villefranche Mer, Geosci Azur UMR 6526, Villefranche Sur Mer, France.
8 : Univ Tromso, Dept Geol, N-9001 Tromso, Norway.
9 : IFM GEOMAR, Leibniz Inst Marine Sci, Kiel, Germany.
Source Oceanography (1042-8275) (The Oceanography Society), 2009-03 , Vol. 22 , N. 1 , P. 92-109
DOI 10.5670/oceanog.2009.11
WOS© Times Cited 76
Keyword(s) mosby mud volcano, deep sea fan, eastern mediterranean sea, black sea, anaerobic oxidation, hydrocarbon seeps, carbonate crusts, sidescan sonar, hydrate ridge, gas chimneys
Abstract Submarine hydrocarbon seeps are geologically driven "hotspots" of increased biological activity on the seabed. As part of the HERMES project, several sites of natural hydrocarbon seepage in the European seas were investigated in detail, including mud volcanoes and pockmarks, in study areas extending from the Nordic margin, to the Gulf of Cadiz, to the Mediterranean and Black seas. High-resolution seabed maps and the main properties of key seep sites are presented here. Individual seeps show ecosystem zonation related to the strength of the methane flux and distinct biogeochemical processes in surface sediments. A feature common to many seeps is the formation of authigenic carbonate constructions. These constructions exhibit various morphologies ranging from large pavements and fragmented slabs to chimneys and mushroom-shaped mounds, and they form hard substrates colonized by fixed fauna. Gas hydrate dissociation could contribute to sustain seep chemosynthetic communities over several thousand years following large gas-release events.
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