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Unravelling Abiotic and Biotic Sources and Sinks of Carbon in Marine Hydrothermal Systems

English title Unravelling Abiotic and Biotic Sources and Sinks of Carbon in Marine Hydrothermal Systems
Applicant Bernasconi-Green Gretchen
Number 143891
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Geochemie und Petrologie ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Geochemistry
Start/End 01.10.2012 - 31.12.2014
Approved amount 240'858.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Geochemistry
Other disciplines of Earth Sciences

Keywords (14)

Lost City; carbonate precipitation; lipid biomarkers; compound-specific isotopes; serpentinization; stable isotopes; hydrothermal systems; radiocarbon; microbial activity; volatiles; carbon; organic geochemistry; radiocarbon; IODP

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary

This project is an organic geochemical and stable isotope study of modern serpentinite-carbonate systems, focused on understanding geochemical and microbial processes associated with the formation of high alkaline fluids during the alteration of olivine-rich, mantle rocks (serpentinization). We address open questions regarding the production and consumption of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in marine hydrothermal systems and the links between inorganic reactions and microbial activity that influence biogeochemical cycling of carbon during hydrothermal circulation. The overall goals of the project are to investigate carbon cycles in basalt-hosted and serpentinite-hosted hydrothermal systems with emphasis on sinks and sources of organic compounds and the controls on microbial uptake of carbon from different sources. We will also develop novel analytical methods to determine the stable and radiogenic carbon isotope composition of small quantities of carbon in DOC in seawater, in lipid biomarkers, and organic carbon in serpentinites. These analyses will allow the evaluation of processes that alter seawater DOC during hydrothermal circulation in basaltic and ultramafic environments and to determine whether oceanic serpentinites are an important sink of DOC from seawater, incorporated during fluid-rock interaction. We will measure radiocarbon contents on organic compounds specific to bacterial and archaeal microbial communities from hydrothermal deposits at the Lost City hydrothermal system (Mid-Atlantic Ridge) to investigate what controls microbial uptake of mantle- versus seawater-derived carbon in alkaline hydrothermal systems. This work will expand forefront analytical techniques that involve preparative gas chromatography and high-performance liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry and measuring radiocarbon contents on the unique Miniaturized Carbon Dating System (MICADAS) equipped with a gas-source, allowing measurements down to a few micrograms of C. The results of this study will provide insight into the fate of organic carbon in marine hydrothermal systems and the relative fluxes of mantle carbon and seawater dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) to microbial biomass. These are key components of the global carbon cycle that are still poorly constrained.  

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Biosignatures in chimney structures and sediment from the Loki's Castle low-temperature hydrothermal vent field at the Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge
Jaeschke Andrea, Eickmann Benjamin, Lang Susan Q., Bernasconi Stefano M., Strauss Harald, Frueh-Green Gretchen L. (2014), Biosignatures in chimney structures and sediment from the Loki's Castle low-temperature hydrothermal vent field at the Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge, in EXTREMOPHILES, 18(3), 545-560.
Investigations of potential microbial methanogenic and carbon monoxide utilization pathways in ultra-basic reducing springs associated with present-day continental serpentinization: the Tablelands, NL, CAN
Morrill Penny L., Brazelton William J., Kohl Lukas, Rietze Amanda, Miles Sarah M., Kavanagh Heidi, Schrenk Matthew O., Ziegler Susan E., Lang Susan Q. (2014), Investigations of potential microbial methanogenic and carbon monoxide utilization pathways in ultra-basic reducing springs associated with present-day continental serpentinization: the Tablelands, NL, CAN, in FRONTIERS IN MICROBIOLOGY, 5(Article 61), 1.
Purification of fire derived markers for mu g scale isotope analysis (delta C-13, Delta C-14) using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)
Gierga Merle, Schneider Maximilian P. W., Wiedemeier Daniel B., Lang Susan Q., Smittenberg Rienk H., Hajdas Irka, Bernasconi Stefano M., Schmidt Michael W. I. (2014), Purification of fire derived markers for mu g scale isotope analysis (delta C-13, Delta C-14) using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), in ORGANIC GEOCHEMISTRY, 70, 1-9.
Isotopic (delta C-13, Delta C-14) analysis of organic acids in marine samples using wet chemical oxidation
Lang Susan Q., Frueh-Green Gretchen L., Bernasconi Stefano M., Wacker Lukas (2013), Isotopic (delta C-13, Delta C-14) analysis of organic acids in marine samples using wet chemical oxidation, in LIMNOLOGY AND OCEANOGRAPHY-METHODS, 11, 161-175.
Isotopic (delta C-13, Delta C-14) analysis of organic acids in marine samples using wet chemical oxidation
Lang Susan Q., Frueh-Green Gretchen L., Bernasconi Stefano M., Wacker Lukas (2013), Isotopic (delta C-13, Delta C-14) analysis of organic acids in marine samples using wet chemical oxidation, in LIMNOLOGY AND OCEANOGRAPHY-METHODS, 11, 161-175.
Record of archaeal activity at the serpentinite-hosted Lost City Hydrothermal Field
Mehay S., Frueh-Green G. L., Lang S. Q., Bernasconi S. M., Brazelton W. J., Schrenk M. O., Schaeffer P., Adam P. (2013), Record of archaeal activity at the serpentinite-hosted Lost City Hydrothermal Field, in GEOBIOLOGY, 11(6), 570-592.
Serpentinization, Carbon, and Deep Life
Schrenk Matthew O., Brazelton William J., Lang Susan Q. (2013), Serpentinization, Carbon, and Deep Life, in Reviews in Mineralogy CARBON IN EARTH, 75, 575-606.
Sources and cycling of carbon in continental, serpentinite-hosted alkaline springs in the Voltri Massif, Italy
Schwarzenbach Esther M., Lang Susan Q., Frah-Green Gretchen L., Lilley Marvin D., Bemasconi Stefano M., Mehay Sabine (2013), Sources and cycling of carbon in continental, serpentinite-hosted alkaline springs in the Voltri Massif, Italy, in LITHOS, 177, 226-244.
Sources of organic nitrogen at the serpentinite-hosted Lost City hydrothermal field
Lang S. Q., Frueh-Green G. L., Bernasconi S. M., Butterfield D. A. (2013), Sources of organic nitrogen at the serpentinite-hosted Lost City hydrothermal field, in GEOBIOLOGY, 11(2), 154-169.
H-2/CH4 ratios cannot reliably distinguish abiotic vs. biotic methane in natural hydrothermal systems
Lang Susan Q., Frueh-Green Gretchen L., Kelley Deborah S., Lilley Marvin D., Proskurowski Giora, Reeves Eoghan P. (2012), H-2/CH4 ratios cannot reliably distinguish abiotic vs. biotic methane in natural hydrothermal systems, in PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 109(47), 3210-3210.
Microbial utilization of abiogenic carbon and hydrogen in a serpentinite-hosted system
Lang Susan Q., Frueh-Green Gretchen L., Bernasconi Stefano M., Lilley Marvin D., Proskurowski Giora, Mehay Sabine, Butterfield David A. (2012), Microbial utilization of abiogenic carbon and hydrogen in a serpentinite-hosted system, in GEOCHIMICA ET COSMOCHIMICA ACTA, 92, 82-99.
Stable isotope analysis of organic carbon in small (mu g C) samples and dissolved organic matter using a GasBench preparation device
Lang Susan Q., Bernasconi Stefano M., Frueh-Green Gretchen L. (2012), Stable isotope analysis of organic carbon in small (mu g C) samples and dissolved organic matter using a GasBench preparation device, in RAPID COMMUNICATIONS IN MASS SPECTROMETRY, 26(1), 9-16.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
School of Oceanography/University of Washington, Seattle United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
Bigalow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Michigan State University United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Laboratory of Ion Beam Physics, ETH Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
University of Utah United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
East Carolina University United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
AGU Fall Meeting 2014 Talk given at a conference Serpentinization and Life: Motivations for Drilling the Atlantis Massif 08.12.2014 San Francisco, California, United States of America Lang Susan; Bernasconi-Green Gretchen;
Swiss Geoscience Meeting 2014 Talk given at a conference Serpentinization and Life: IODP Drilling at the Atlantis Massif 21.11.2014 Fribourg, Switzerland Bernasconi-Green Gretchen; Lang Susan;
Goldschmidt California 2014 Poster Tracking the fate of carbon in serpentinite-hosted systems 08.06.2014 Sacramento, California, United States of America Lang Susan;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions Die faszinierende Welt der Tiefsee: Vulkane, Rauch und Leben am Meeresboden German-speaking Switzerland 2013
Talks/events/exhibitions Manche mögen es heiss: Vulkane, Rauch und Leben am Ozeanboden German-speaking Switzerland 2013
Talks/events/exhibitions Zur verlorenen Stadt tauchen: Ein aussergewöhnliches Ökosystem in der Tiefsee German-speaking Switzerland 2013

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
163187 Hydration and carbonation of mantle peridotite: Drilling the Atlantis Massif (MAR 30°N) and the Samail ophiolite (Oman) 01.01.2016 Project funding (Div. I-III)
134847 Compound-Specific Radiocarbon Analysis of Lake Sediments: A New Tool for Dating and Reconstruction of Carbon Dynamics of Soils Through the Holocene: part II 01.06.2011 Project funding (Div. I-III)
163073 Drilling the Atlantis Massif (MAR 30°N) and the Samail ophiolite (Oman) 01.07.2016 Research Infrastructure
134947 Fluid-Rock Interaction and Fluid Fluxes in Mafic and Ultramafic Seafloor: Peridotite-hosted Hydrothermal Systems Past and Present 01.04.2011 Project funding (Div. I-III)
131922 Life in Extreme Environments II: Carbon and Nitrogen Cycles in High Alkaline Systems 01.10.2010 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

The project proposed here is a continuation of SNF project No. 200020-131922 and builds on previous organic geochemical and stable isotope studies of geochemical and microbial processes during hydrothermal activity associated with high alkaline fluids in modern serpentinite-carbonate systems. Here we address open questions regarding the production and consumption of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in marine hydrothermal systems and the links between inorganic reactions and microbial activity that influence biogeochemical cycling of carbon during hydrothermal circulation. The overall goals of the proposed project are to investigate carbon cycles in basalt-hosted and serpentinite-hosted hydrothermal systems with emphasis on sinks and sources of organic compounds and the controls on microbial uptake of carbon from different sources. We will also develop new methods to analyze carbon isotope compositions of organic carbon in marine hydrothermal fluids and lipid biomarkers. Specifically, we address the following major questions: •What processes alter seawater DOC during hydrothermal circulation in basaltic and ultramafic environments with varying thermal structures and fluid pathways? What is the relative contribution of abiotically- versus biotically-derived carbon to DOC concentrations in these hydrothermal systems? •Are oceanic serpentinites an important sink of DOC from seawater, incorporated during fluid-rock interaction? •What controls the microbial uptake of mantle- versus seawater-derived carbon in alkaline hydrothermal systems? Do differences in microbial uptake of mantle C at the Lost City hydrothermal field (Mid-Atlantic Ridge) reflect variations in microbial communities at different sites? Or are the microbial communities largely the same but are able to adapt to changes in environmental conditions and fluid compositions?To address these questions, we will develop novel analytical methods to determine the stable and radiogenic carbon isotope composition of small quantities of carbon in DOC in seawater, in lipid biomarkers, and organic carbon in serpentinites. We will measure radiocarbon contents on organic compounds specific to bacterial (e.g., fatty acids) and archaeal (e.g., PMIs, GDGTs) microbial communities from hydrothermal deposits at Lost City. We will expand forefront analytical techniques that have recently been developed in the Stable Isotope and Organic Geochemistry Laboratory and the Laboratory of Ion Beam Physics at the ETH Zurich. Specifically, the analytical methods involve preparative gas chromatography and high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, while radiocarbon contents are measured on the unique Miniaturized Carbon Dating System (MICADAS) equipped with a gas-source, allowing measurements down to a few micrograms of C. The results of this study will provide insight into the fate of organic carbon in marine hydrothermal systems and the relative fluxes of mantle carbon and seawater dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) to microbial biomass. These are key components of the global carbon cycle that are still poorly constrained.
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