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Hydrogen sulphide and methane emissions on the central Namibian shelf
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Geology and Geochemistry. (Geochemistry)
Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Swakopmund, Namibia.
Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Luderitz, Namibia.
2009 (English)In: Progress in Oceanography, ISSN 0079-6611, Vol. 83, no 1-4, 169-179 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Hydrogen sulphide occurs frequently in the waters of the inner shelf coastal upwelling area off central Namibia. The area affected coincides with hatching grounds of commercially important pelagic fish, whose recruitment may be severely affected by recurring toxic sulphidic episodes. Both episodic biogenic methane gas-driven advective and molecular diffusive flux of hydrogen sulphide have been implicated as transport mechanisms from the underlying organic-matter-rich diatomaceous mud. To test hypotheses on the controls of hydrogen sulphide transport from the sediments on the inner Namibian shelf, water column and sediment data were acquired from four stations between 27 and 72 m water depth over a 3 year long period. On 14 cruises, temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, nitrate, methane, and total dissolved sulphide were determined from water column samples, and pore water dissolved methane, total dissolved sulphide, biomass of benthic sulphide-oxidising bacteria Beggiatoa and Thiomargarita, and bacterial sulphate reduction rates were determined from sediment cores. Superimposed on a trend of synchronous changes in water column oxygen and nutrient concentrations controlled by regional hydrographic conditions were asynchronous small-scale variations at the in-shore stations that attest to localized controls on water column chemistry. Small temporal variations in sulphate reduction rates determined with 35S-labeled sulphate do not support the interpretation that variable emissions of sulphide and methane from sediments are driven by temporal changes in the degradation rates of freshly deposited organic matter. The large temporal changes in the concentrations of hydrogen sulphide and the co-occurrence of pore water sulphate and methane support an interpretation of episodic advection of methane and hydrogen sulphide from deeper sediment depths – possibly due to gas bubble transport. Effective fluxes of hydrogen sulphide and methane to the water column, and methane and sulphide concentrations in the bottom waters were decoupled, likely due to the activity of sulphide-oxidising bacteria. While the causal mechanism for the episodic fluctuations in methane and dissolved sulphide concentrations remains unclear, this data set points to the importance of alternating advective and diffusive transport of methane and hydrogen sulphide to the water column.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier , 2009. Vol. 83, no 1-4, 169-179 p.
National Category
Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Marine Geoscience; Geochemistry; Marine Ecology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-32713DOI: 10.1016/j.pocean.2009.07.017ISI: 000273242100015OAI: diva2:281397
NAMIBGASDFG priority program 516 Meteor expedition
Available from: 2009-12-15 Created: 2009-12-15 Last updated: 2009-12-20Bibliographically approved

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Brüchert, Volker
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Department of Geology and Geochemistry
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