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Biomarker evidence for intense aerobic methane oxidation during sapropel conditions

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Helen Talbot, Dr Luke Handley, Professor Thomas Wagner


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We report for the first time the observation of bacteriohopanepolyol (BHP) biomarkers including highly diagnostic structures indicative of aerobic methane oxidising bacteria in sapropel units S1 and S2 from the Eastern Mediteranean (Core MS66PC; location 33N1.9'; 31E47.9'; water depth 1630 m) off the River Nile. The highly diagnostic marker 35-aminobacteriohopanepentol, known only from Type I methanotrophs [1] was the most abundant aminoBHP in both units investigated. This compound, together with related structures, has previously been reported from the oxic/anoxic transition zone of the Black Sea water column [2, 3] as well a a range of lacustrine sediments [4, 5, 6], terrestrial environments and sediments from the Congo and Amazon deep sea fans up to an age of 1.2 Ma [7]. By analogy with their occurrence in the Black Sea water column we hypothesise that the target biomarkers are focused to periods of increasing or decreasing deoxygenation in the run-up or recovery from sapropelconditions, however, more detailed knowledge of the exact timing of these first biomarker observations is vital. Comparison with other geochemical evidence on productivity (e.g. Ba) and redox (trace elements) is ongoing and will support the biomarker interpretation. Work on S1 and S2 sections in other deep basin cores will complement the interpretation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Talbot HM, Handley L, de Lange G, Wagner T

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta: Conference on Goldschmidt, Earth, Energy, and the Environment

Year of Conference: 2010

Pages: A1023

ISSN: 0016-7037

Publisher: Pergamon

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 18729533