Geo-Marine Letters

, Volume 14, Issue 2–3, pp 110–119 | Cite as

Organic geochemistry of sediments from chemosynthetic communities, Gulf of Mexico slope

  • R. Sassen
  • I. R. MacDonald
  • A. G. Requejo
  • N. L. GuinassoJr.
  • M. C. KennicuttII
  • S. T. Sweet
  • J. M. Brooks
Article

Abstract

We used a research submersible to obtain 33 sediment samples from chemosynthetic communities at 541–650 m water depths in the Green Canyon (GC) area of the Gulf of Mexico slope. Sediment samples from beneath an isolated mat of H2S-oxidizing bacteria at GC 234 contain oil (mean = 5650 ppm) and C1–C5 hydrocarbons (mean = 12,979 ppm) that are altered by bacterial oxidation. Control cores away from the mat contain lower concentrations of oil (mean = 2966 ppm) and C1–C5 hydrocarbons (mean = 83.6 ppm). Bacterial oxidation of hydrocarbons depletes O2 in sediments and triggers bacterial sulfate reduction to produce the H2S required by the mats. Sediment samples from GC 185 (Bush Hill) contain high concentrations of oil (mean = 24,775 ppm) and C1–C5 hydrocarbons (mean = 11,037 ppm) that are altered by bacterial oxidation. Tube worm communities requiring H2S occur at GC 185 where the sea floor has been greatly modified since the Pleistocene by accumulation of oil, thermogenic gas hydrates, and authigenic carbonate rock. Venting to the water column is suppressed by this sea-floor modification, enhancing bacterial activity in sediments. Sediments from an area with vesicomyid clams (GC 272) contain lower concentrations of oil altered by bacterial oxidation (mean = 1716 ppm) but C1–C5 concentrations are high (mean = 28,766 ppm). In contrast to other sampling areas, a sediment associated with the methanotrophic Seep Mytilid I (GC 233) is characterized by low concentration of oil (82 ppm) but biogenic methane (C1) is present (8829 ppm).

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Sassen
    • 1
  • I. R. MacDonald
    • 1
  • A. G. Requejo
    • 1
  • N. L. GuinassoJr.
    • 1
  • M. C. KennicuttII
    • 1
  • S. T. Sweet
    • 1
  • J. M. Brooks
    • 1
  1. 1.Geochemical and Environmental Research Group (GERG)Texas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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