Silicate Weathering and Pervasive Authigenic Carbonate Precipitation Coupled to Methanogenesis in the Krishna-Godavari Basin, Offshore India

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 4:45 PM
Evan A Solomon, Univ Washington, Seattle, WA, United States, Arthur J Spivack, University of Rhode Island, Narragansett, RI, United States, Miriam Kastner, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, CA, United States and Marta E Torres, Oregon State Univ, College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Corvallis, OR, United States
The cycling of methane in marine sediments has been actively studied for the past several decades, but less attention has been paid to the cycling of CO2 produced in methanogenic sediments. The National Gas Hydrate Program Expedition 01 cored 10 sites with the Joides Resolution drillship in the Krishna-Godavari basin, located on the southeastern margin of India. A comprehensive suite of pore water solute concentrations and isotope ratios were analyzed to investigate the distribution and concentration of gas hydrate along the margin, in situ diagenetic and metabolic reactions, fluid migration and flow pathways, and fluid and gas sources. This represents one of the most comprehensive pore water geochemical datasets collected at a continental margin to date, and provides the necessary tracers to better understand the processes and sinks controlling CO2 in margin sediments.

Our results show that the CO2 produced through net microbial methanogenesis is effectively neutralized through silicate weathering throughout the sediment column drilled at each site (~100-300 m), buffering the pH of the sedimentary pore water and generating excess alkalinity through the same reaction sequence as continental silicate weathering. Most of the excess alkalinity produced through silicate weathering in the Krishna-Godavari basin is sequestered in Ca- and Fe-carbonates as a result of ubiquitous calcium release from weathering detrital silicates and Fe-reduction within the methanogenic sediments. Formation of secondary hydrous silicates (e.g. smectite) related to incongruent primary silicate dissolution acts as a significant sink for pore water Mg, K, Li, Rb, and B. The consumption of methane through anaerobic oxidation of methane, sequestration of methane in gas hydrate, and sequestration of dissolved inorganic carbon in authigenic carbonates keeps methanogenesis as a thermodynamically feasible catabolic pathway. Our results combined with previous indications of silicate weathering in anoxic sediments in the Sea of Okhotsk, suggest that silicate weathering coupled to microbial methanogenesis should be occurring in continental margins worldwide, providing a net sink of atmospheric CO2 over geologic timescales.