Paleo-methane emissions recorded in foraminifera near the landward limit of the gas hydrate stability zone offshore western Svalbard
We present stable isotope and geochemical data from four sediment cores from west of Prins Karls Forland (ca. 340 m water depth), offshore western Svalbard, recovered from close to sites of active methane seepage, as well as from shallower water depths where methane seepage is not presently observed. Our analyses provide insight into the record of methane seepage in an area where ongoing ocean warming may be fueling the destabilization of shallow methane hydrate. The d13C values of benthic and planktonic foraminifera at the methane seep sites show distinct intervals with negative values (as low as 227.8&) that do not coincide with the present-day depth of the sulfate methane transition zone (SMTZ) These intervals are interpreted to record long-term ﬂuctuations in methane release at the present-day land- ward limit of the gas hydrate stability zone (GHSZ). Shifts in the radiocarbon ages obtained from planktonic foraminifera toward older values are related to methane-derived authigenic carbonate overgrowths of the foraminiferal tests, and prevent us from establishing the chronology of seepage events. At shallower water depths, where seepage is not presently observed, no record of past methane seepage is recorded in forami nifera from sediments spanning the last 14 ka cal BP (14C-AMS dating). d13C values of foraminiferal carbon- ate tests appear to be much more sensitive to methane seepage than other sediment parameters. By providing nucleation sites for authigenic carbonate precipitation, foraminifera thus record the position of even a transiently stable SMTZ, which is likely to be a characteristic of temporally variable methane ﬂuxes.
Published version. Source at http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/2015GC006153