Eruption of a deep-sea mud volcano triggers rapid sediment movement

Submarine mud volcanoes are important sources of methane to the water column. However, the temporal variability of their mud and methane emissions is unknown. Methane emissions were previously proposed to result from a dynamic equilibrium between upward migration and consumption at the seabed by methane-consuming microbes. Here we show non-steady-state situations of vigorous mud movement that are revealed through variations in fluid flow, seabed temperature and seafloor bathymetry. Time series data for pressure, temperature, pH and seafloor photography were collected over 431 days using a benthic observatory at the active Hakon Mosby Mud Volcano. We documented 25 pulses of hot subsurface fluids, accompanied by eruptions that changed the landscape of the mud volcano. Four major events triggered rapid sediment uplift of more than a metre in height, substantial lateral flow of muds at average velocities of 0.4m per day, and significant emissions of methane and CO2 from the seafloor.

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Feseker Tomas, Boetius Antje, Wenzhofer Frank, Blandin Jerome, Olu Karine, Yoerger Dana R., Camilli Richard, German Christopher R., de Beer Dirk (2014). Eruption of a deep-sea mud volcano triggers rapid sediment movement. Nature Communications. 5. 1-8.,

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