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Free Content Notes on the modeling of methane in aging hydrothermal plumes

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Marine hydrothermal vent fields represent a unique environment for the study of aerobic microbial methane oxidation because of high methane concentrations and limited spatial and temporal scales. Earlier data collected in lateral plumes at the Endeavour Segment of the Juan de Fuca Ridge, including methane concentration, methane oxidation rate and stable carbon isotopic composition (13C), are carefully interpreted with a suite of simple analytical models. Methane oxidation is defined with a rate constant k as a first order process with respect to both substrate and methanotroph concentration. This elementary formalism coupled with simplified representations of advection and diffusion through the lateral plume is sufficient to reproduce salient features of the data: maximum methane turnover times of about a week 2 km from the vent field location and stable carbon isotopic enrichment from -47‰ to values exceeding -5‰ over a distance of 15 km. Results suggest that k is of order 10-8 (nM-s)-1 at local conditions and that methane oxidizing bacteria hold about 12 fg of carbon per cell.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-11-01

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  • The Journal of Marine Research publishes peer-reviewed research articles covering a broad array of topics in physical, biological and chemical oceanography. Articles that deal with processes, as well as those that report significant observations, are welcome. In the area of biology, studies involving coupling between ecological and physical processes are preferred over those that report systematics. Authors benefit from thorough reviews of their manuscripts, where an attempt is made to maximize clarity. The time between submission and publication is kept to a minimum; there is no page charge.
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