The benthic foraminiferal δ34S records fux and timing of paleo methane emissions
In modern environments, pore water geochemistry and modelling simulations allow the study of methane (CH4) sources and sinks at any geographic location. However, reconstructing CH4 dynamics in geological records is challenging. Here, we show that the benthic foraminiferal δ34S can be used to reconstruct the fux (i.e., difusive vs. advective) and timing of CH4 emissions in fossil records. We measured the δ34S of Cassidulina neoteretis specimens from selected samples collected at Vestnesa Ridge, a methane cold seep site in the Arctic Ocean. Our results show lower benthic foraminiferal δ34S values (∼20‰) in the sample characterized by seawater conditions, whereas higher values (∼25–27‰) were measured in deeper samples as a consequence of the presence of past sulphate-methane transition zones. The correlation between δ34S and the bulk benthic foraminiferal δ13C supports this interpretation, whereas the foraminiferal δ18O-δ34S correlation indicates CH4 advection at the studied site during the Early Holocene and the Younger-Dryas – post-Bølling. This study highlights the potential of the benthic foraminiferal δ34S as a novel tool to reconstruct the fux of CH4 emissions in geological records and to indirectly date fossil seeps.