Bivalve Shell Horizons in Seafloor Pockmarks of the Last Glacial-interglacial Transition Suggest a Thousand Years of Methane Emissions in the Arctic Ocean
Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
We studied discrete bivalve shell horizons, in two gravity cores from seafloor pockmarks on the Vestnesa Ridge (ca. 1200 m water depth), western Svalbard (79° 00’ N, 06° 55’ W) to provide insight into the temporal and spatial dynamics of seabed methane seeps. The shell beds, are dominated by two genera of the family Vesicomyidae: Phreagena s.l. and Isorropodon sp. were 20-30cm thick centered at 250-400cm depth in the cores. The carbon isotope composition of inorganic (δ13C from -13.02‰ to +2.364‰) and organic (δ13C from -29.283‰ to -21.33‰) shell material indicates that these taxa derived their energy primarily from endosymbiotic chemosynthetic bacteria feeding on methane. In addition, negative δ13C values for planktonic foraminifera (-6.7‰ to -3.1‰), micritic concretions identified as methane-derived authigenic carbonates and pyrite encrusted fossil worm tubes at the shell horizons indicate a sustained paleo-methane seep environment. Combining sedimentation rates with 14C ages for bivalve material from the shell horizons, we estimate the horizons persisted for about 1000 years between approximately 17,707 to 16,680 yrs. BP (corrected). The major seepage event over a 1000 -year time interval was most likely triggered by tectonic stress and the subsequent release of over-pressurized fluids.