International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 103, Issue 7, pp 1831–1844 | Cite as

Formation of carbonate concretions in surface sediments of two mud mounds, offshore Costa Rica: a stable isotope study

  • Vasileios MavromatisEmail author
  • Reiner Botz
  • Mark Schmidt
  • Volker Liebetrau
  • Christian Hensen
Original Paper


The surface sediments of two mud mounds (“Mound 11” and “Mound 12”) offshore southwest Costa Rica contain abundant authigenic carbonate concretions dominated by high-Mg calcite (14–20 mol-% MgCO3). Pore fluid geochemical profiles (sulfate, sulfide, methane, alkalinity, Ca and Mg) indicate recent carbonate precipitation within the zone of anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) at variable depths. The current location of the authigenic carbonate concretions is, however, not related to the present location of the AOM zone, suggesting mineral precipitation under past geochemical conditions as well as changes in the flow rates of upward migrating fluids. Stable oxygen and carbon isotope analysis of authigenic carbonate concretions yielded δ18Ocarbonate values ranging between 34.0 and 37.7 ‰ Vienna standard mean ocean water (VSMOW) and δ13Ccarbonate values from −52.2 to −14.2 ‰ Vienna Pee Dee belemnite (VPDB). Assuming that no temperature changes occurred during mineral formation, the authigenic carbonate concretions have been formed at in situ temperature of 4–5 °C. The δ18Ocarbonate values suggest mineral formation from seawater-derived pore fluid (δ18Oporefluid = 0 ‰ VSMOW) for Mound 12 carbonate concretions but also the presence of an emanating diagenetic fluid (δ18Oporefluid ≈5 ‰) in Mound 11. A positive correlation between δ13Ccarbonate and δ18Ocarbonate is observed, indicating the admixing of two different sources of dissolved carbon and oxygen in the sediments of the two mounds. The carbon of these sources are (1) marine bicarbonate (δ13Cporefluid ≈0 ‰) and (2) bicarbonate which formed during the AOM (δ13Cporefluid ≈−70 ‰). Furthermore, the δ18Oporefluid composition, with values up to +4.7 ‰ Vienna standard mean ocean water (VSMOW), is interpreted to be affected by the presence of emanating, freshened and boron-enriched fluids. Earlier, it has been shown that the origin of 18O-enriched fluids are deep diagenetic processes as it was indicated by the presence of methane with thermogenic signature (δ13CCH4 = −38 ‰). A combination of present geochemical data with geophysical observations indicates that Mounds 11 and 12 represent a single fluid system interconnected by deep-seated fault(s).


Authigenic carbonates Mud volcano fluids Early diagenesis 



Stable isotopic analyses were conducted by Nils Andersen (Leibniz Laboratory of Radiometric Dating and Stable Isotope Research). Laboratory help was provided by Bettina Domeyer, Kristin Nass, Anke Bleyer, Regina Surberg, Peggy Wefers, Inge Dold and Petra Fiedler. We thank Priska Schäfer for providing SEM facilities. We thank E. Suess for his editorial assistance, and we acknowledge T. Himmler and an anonymous reviewer for their fruitful comments that greatly improved our manuscript. Additional thanks go to Andy Bray for help with the English. This publication is contribution 203 of the Sonderforschungsbereich 574 “Volatiles and Fluids in Subduction Zones” at University of Kiel, Germany.

Supplementary material

531_2012_843_MOESM1_ESM.xls (57 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLS 57 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vasileios Mavromatis
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Reiner Botz
    • 2
  • Mark Schmidt
    • 1
    • 4
  • Volker Liebetrau
    • 1
    • 4
  • Christian Hensen
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Sonderforschungsbereich 574University of KielKielGermany
  2. 2.Institute for GeosciencesUniversity of KielKielGermany
  3. 3.Geosciences Environment Toulouse (GET)CNRS, UMR5563, Observatoire Midi-PyrénéesToulouseFrance
  4. 4.Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research (GEOMAR)KielGermany

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