Spatial distribution of mud flows, chemoautotrophic communities, and biogeochemical habitats at Håkon Mosby Mud Volcano

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Jerosch, K. , Schlüter, M. , Foucher, J. P. , Allais, A. G. , Klages, M. and Edy, C. (2007): Spatial distribution of mud flows, chemoautotrophic communities, and biogeochemical habitats at Håkon Mosby Mud Volcano , Marine Geology, 243 , pp. 1-17 . doi: 10.1016/j.margeo.2007.03.010
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Marine mud volcanoes are significant source locations contributing to the marine methane cycle. Enhanced heat flow, unique chemoautotrophic communities, occurrence of massive gas hydrates and large gas plumes are direct evidences of elevated methane concentrations and the dynamic environment of mud volcanoes. Related to the high concentrations and large inventories of CH4 in surface sediments only a fraction of the methane is exported to the bottom water. This is mainly due to chemoautotrophiccommunities oxidizing methane and proving a microbial filter reducing CH4 fluxes. Although these processes were studied for several mud volcanoes still little is known about the spatial pattern and the areas covered by chemoautotrophic communities or by present mud flows.For this purposes the Håkon Mosby Mud Volcano (HMMV), which is located at the continental slope of the Barents Sea, was studied by several dives with the Remotely Operated Vehicle Victor6000. During these dives a high resolution microbathymetric map, with a footprint of 25×25 cm and a vertical resolution of better than 10 cm was derived. Furthermore, video streams of the bottom camera were converted into georeferenced mosaics, providing a detailed image about the spatial distribution of seafloor features as bacterial mats, pogonophorans, both indicating methane oxidation, or mud flows. Based on visual inspection of 2310 georeferenced mosaics covering an area of 46,160 m2, different biogeochemical habitats were identified and quantified on a m2-basis. By application of geostatistic techniques as indicator kriging the distribution of different biogeochemical habitats was quantified and mapped for the entire HMMV.Considering the flat and hummocky area of HMMV, approximately 16% (115,165 m2) of the flat centre is nearly void of any benthic communities. This area is considered as a region of high methane discharge into bottom water. An area of 5% (38,244 m2), located in the south-eastern part, is densely inhabited by Beggiatoa. The hummocky outer part is colonised dominantly bypogonophoran tube worms (37.3%; 276,121 m2) and only occasional by Beggiatoa. Source locations and drainage directions for current mud flows were identified by computation of trend surfaces and consideration of temperature data. This suggests that present mud flow ascend close to the northern edge of the flat unit of HMMV, and that the drainage pattern of mud flows shifted from a westward to a south-south-eastern direction.

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