CO2 leakage can cause loss of benthic biodiversity in submarine sands

Thomas.Soltwedel [ at ]


One of the options to mitigate atmospheric CO2 increase is CO2 Capture and Storage in sub-seabed geological formations. Since predicting long-term storage security is difficult, different CO2 leakage scenarios and impacts on marine ecosystems require evaluation. Submarine CO2 vents may serve as natural analogues and allow studying the effects of CO2 leakage in a holistic approach. At the study site east of Basiluzzo Islet off Panarea Island (Italy), gas emissions (90-99% CO2) occur at moderate flows (80-120 L m-2 h-1). We investigated the effects of acidified porewater conditions (pHT range: 5.5-7.7) on the diversity of benthic bacteria and invertebrates by sampling natural sediments in three subsequent years and by performing a transplantation experiment with a duration of one year, respectively. Both multiple years and one year of exposure to acidified porewater conditions reduced the number of benthic bacterial operational taxonomic units and invertebrate species diversity by 30-80%. Reduced biodiversity at the vent sites increased the temporal variability in bacterial and nematode community biomass, abundance and composition. While the release from CO2 exposure resulted in a full recovery of nematode species diversity within one year, bacterial diversity remained affected. Overall our findings showed that seawater acidification, induced by seafloor CO2 emissions, was responsible for loss of diversity across different size-classes of benthic organisms, which reduced community stability with potential relapses on ecosystem resilience.

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.1016/j.marenvres.2019.01.006

Cite as
Molari, M. , Guilini, K. , Ramette, A. and Vanreusel, A. (2019): CO2 leakage can cause loss of benthic biodiversity in submarine sands , Marine Environmental Research, 144 , pp. 213-229 . doi: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2019.01.006

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Geographical region

Research Platforms


Edit Item Edit Item