Megafaunal distribution and assessment of total methane and sulfide consumption by mussel beds at Menez Gwen hydrothermal vent, based on geo-referenced photomosaics

Abstract

The Menez Gwen hydrothermal vents, located on the flanks of a small young volcanic structure in the axial valley of the Menez Gwen seamount, are the shallowest known vent systems on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge that host chemosynthetic communities. Although visited several times by research cruises, very few images have been published of the active sites, and their spatial dimensions and morphologies remain difficult to comprehend. We visited the vents on the eastern flank of the small Menez Gwen volcano during cruises with RV Poseidon (POS402, 2010) and RV Meteor (M82/3, 2010), and used new bathymetry and imagery data to provide first detailed information on the extents, surface morphologies, spatial patterns of the hydrothermal discharge and the distribution of dominant megafauna of five active sites. The investigated sites were mostly covered by soft sediments and abundant white precipitates, and bordered by basaltic pillows. The hydrothermally-influenced areas of the sites ranged from 59 to 200 m(2). Geo-referenced photomosaics and video data revealed that the symbiotic mussel Bathymodiolus azoricus was the dominant species and present at all sites. Using literature data on average body sizes and biomasses of Menez Gwen B. azoricus, we estimated that the B. azoricus populations inhabiting the eastern flank sites of the small volcano range between 28,640 and 50,120 individuals with a total biomass of 50 to 380 kg wet weight. Based on modeled rates of chemical consumption by the symbionts, the annual methane and sulfide consumption by B. azoricus could reach 1760 mol CH4 yr(-1) and 11,060 mol H2S yr(-1). We propose that the chemical consumption by B. azoricus over at the Menez Gwen sites is low compared to the natural release of methane and sulfide via venting fluids. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved

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Last time updated on June 15, 2019

This paper was published in MPG.PuRe.

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