Architecture of Archaeal-Dominated Microbial Mats from Cold Seeps in the Black Sea (Dnjepr Canyon, Lower Crimean Shelf)
The Black Sea is an excellent area to study cold methane seeps in various water depths and environments. The upper part of the water column is oxygenated down to a depth of ca. 120 m and is anaerobic below. Abundant small seepage structures within the oxygenated environment are recognizable by dense white mats of sulfide-oxidizing bacteria, within the anaerobic water column forest-like carbonate tower fields (e.g., GHOSTDABS-field), and huge mud volcanoes are common within deeper areas of the Black Sea (Greinert et al., 2006; Michaelis et al., 2002; Reitner et al., 2005a, b). The cold seeps with large methane-related carbonate build-ups in the area of Dnjepr Canyon were discovered in 1989 (Pimenov et al., 1997). For the first time, samples of carbonates were taken in the years 1993–1994 (Peckmann et al., 2001; Thiel et al., 2001). These important observations led to the approval of a big project cooperation of the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF): GHOSTDABS: Gas Hydrates, Occurrence, Stability, Transformation, Dynamic and Biology in the Black Sea within the framework of the “Geotechnologien Programm” of the BMBF and the German Research Council (DFG).
KeywordsCold Seep Pyrite Framboids Anaerobic Methane Oxidation Methane Carbonate Seep Site
The author thanks the crew of the R/V “Professor Logachev,” the Jago-submersible crew Karin Hissmann and Jürgen Schauer (IFM-GEOMAR), and the research group of Professor Michaelis (Hamburg) for excellent collaboration and help. The underwater photographs were provided by the Jago crew. This study received financial support through programs GHOSTDABS (03G0559A) of the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (GEOTECHNOLOGIEN). He also thanks Volker Thiel, Christina Heller, Nadine Schaefer, Conny Kaubisch (Geobiology Göttingen), Michael Hoppert (Microbiology, Göttingen), and Jörn Peckmann (Marum, Bremen) for critical comments, analytical, and graphic help. This paper is Courant Research Centre Geobiology publication no. 22.
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