Cretaceous black shales as active bioreactors: A biogeochemical model for the deep biosphere encountered during ODP Leg 207 (Demerara Rise)

S. Arndt, H.-J. Brumsack, K. Wirtz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A transport–reaction model was designed to identify the combination and importance of biogeochemical processes operating in four sites drilled during ODP Leg 207 (Demerara Rise, Equatorial Atlantic). Almost 100 Ma after their deposition, deeply buried Cretaceous black shales still act as active bioreactors in great sediment depths and control the biogeochemical reaction network of the whole sed- iment column. According to a model calibrated at the four drill sites through inverse modeling techniques, methanogenesis could be iden- tified as a key process that dominates not only organic matter degradation but also sulfate availability through the anaerobic oxidation of methane above the black shales. A complete depletion of sulfate within the black shale sequences promotes the remobilization of biogenic barium that reprecipitates as authigenic barite at the top of the sulfate depletion zone. Temporal dynamics of degradation processes caused continuous shifts of the barite precipitation zone during burial, thus inhibiting the formation of an authigenic barite front or causing the dissolution of earlier formed fronts. Major deviations of pore water sulfate profiles from a linear gradient coincide with depths of decelerated or accelerated transport caused by local porosity minima or maxima. Model-determined reaction rates are by far lower than those found in shallower sediments due to the low metabolic activities that are characteristic for the Deep Biosphere. But even after almost 100 Ma, changing organic matter quality still influences the degradation within the black shale sequences, as it is indicated by model results.
Translated title of the contributionCretaceous black shales as active bioreactors: A biogeochemical model for the deep biosphere encountered during ODP Leg 207 (Demerara Rise)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408 - 425
Number of pages18
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Volume70
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2006

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