Inorganic Carbon and pH in the Gulf of Mexico: Understanding the Deepwater Horizon Region

Friday, 19 December 2014
Jordan Young1, Shari Ann Yvon-Lewis2, Thomas S Bianchi3, Michael R Shields2 and Mengran Du2, (1)Texas A & M University, College Station, TX, United States, (2)Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, United States, (3)University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States
The breakdown and respiration of oil compounds may contribute to the dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) pool and thus ocean acidification. The Gulf of Mexico (GOM) has an abundance of natural seeps as well as numerous man-made structures that could provide a source of hydrocarbons to the water column. Samples of seawater were collected on the first GISR (Gulf Integrated Spill Research) cruise (G01) during the first week of July 2012. This cruise covered an area of ~1360 km2 roughly centered on the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Alkalinity profiles for the southeastern most stations indicate lower (~100 μmol/kg) alkalinities at depth when compared to other stations sampled. This results in calculated pHs that are ~0.5 units lower at depth than they are at the other stations. Another group of stations show increased DIC concentrations on the order of 100-150 μmol/kg higher than average at depths at 800 m and 1200 m leading to calculated pHs about 0.2 to 0.4 below average for those depths in all of the stations sampled. These features may or may not be persistent in this region, and the elevated DIC concentrations may be related to organic matter (petroleum or other) oxidation. Samples were collected from this same region 2 years later (June 2014) and the persistence of these features will be discussed in the context of linkages with organic carbon respiration and low pHs.