Ecology of a North Sea pockmark with an active methane seep

  • Dando P
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ABSTRACT: At a large North Sea pockmark, with active methane seeps, surface sediments were found\r
to have higher insoluble sulphide concentrations than sedlments from the surrounding area. The fauna\r
of the pockmark was characterized by 2 species which have not pi-evlously been reported from the\r
Fladen Ground in the northern North Sea. These species were a b~valve, Thyasira sarsi (which is known\r
to contain endosymbiotic sulphur-oxidising bacteria) and a mouthless and gutless nematode,\r
Astomonerna sp., which also contains endosymbiotic bacteria The nematode was the dominant\r
meiofauna species in the pockmark sediments. Both macro-lnfauna and total nematodes were in low\r
abundance in samples taken from the base of the pockmark. Sediment samples from the pockmark\r
contained numerous otoliths, implying that substantial winnowing of the sediment had taken place.\r
This was supported by studies on the sulphide concentrations in the sediment which showed multiple\r
layering of the sediments on the sides of the pockmark, suggesting displacement. The carbon isotope\r
compositions (6I3c) of the tissues of benthic animals from in and around the pockmark were generally in\r
the range -16 to -2O%, indicating that little methane-derived carbon was contributing to their\r
nutrition. T sarsi had the most 13c-depleted tissues, -31.4 to -35.1 L, confirming the nutritional dependence of this species on chemoautotrophic bacteria that utilize reduced sulphur.

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  • P. R. Dando

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