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Journal Article

Interstitial fluid chemistry of sediments underlying the North Atlantic gyre and the influence of subsurface fluid flow


Ferdelman,  T.
Department of Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Max Planck Society;

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Ziebis, W., McManus, J., Ferdelman, T., Schmidt-Schierhorn, F., Bach, W., Muratli, J., et al. (2012). Interstitial fluid chemistry of sediments underlying the North Atlantic gyre and the influence of subsurface fluid flow. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 323, 79-91.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-C871-E
The western flank of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a region underlying the oligotrophic waters of the central Atlantic. The seafloor along portions of this ridge is characterized by sediment-filled depressions, which are surrounded by steep basaltic outcrops. We present pore fluid and sediment solid-phase chemical data from fourteen gravity cores from “North Pond”, a sediment pond where previous drilling work indicated directed flow of seawater within the basement. Sediment lithology is broadly characterized as a nannofossil pelagic sediment containing varying amounts of clay, foraminifers, and Mn-micronodules and typically contains less than 0.3% organic carbon and ~ 70% calcium carbonate. Consistent with its location within an oligotrophic ocean gyre, oxygen and nitrate penetrated deeply into the sediment package. However there is significant spatial variability in the pore fluid nitrate and oxygen profiles, with oxygen generally lower and nitrate higher toward the center of the basin as compared to the edges. In addition, oxygen increased with sediment depth at a number of sites toward the edges of the pond, where sediment cover was thinnest. We interpret these oxygen distributions to indicate that there is upward diffusion of dissolved oxygen from the underlying basaltic basement fluid and the sediment package, and this process appears to be regionally pervasive. Pore fluid molybdenum generally decreases with depth and exhibits spatial variability similar to dissolved oxygen and nitrate. Molybdenum is likely being taken up at depth via adsorption onto manganese oxides, as these sediments are rich in manganese (~ 300–3000 ppm Mn) and molybdenum (~ 2–14 ppm Mo). The strong geographical variations in pore fluid chemistry coupled with the co-variation between molybdenum and oxygen, two species that we would not necessarily expect to be coupled, suggest that diffusion of dissolved constituents into the sediment package from below plays an important role in determining the chemistry of the overlying sediment.

► We present sediment porewater data from the flanks of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. ► Dissolved oxygen penetration into the sediments exceeds 8 meters. ► Porewater variability appears related to sediment thickness and heat flux. ► Ridge flank fluid flow affects sedimentary O2, Mo, and NO3 concentrations.