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Mineralization of vestimentiferan tubes at methane seeps on the Congo deep sea fan

Haas, A, Little, CTS, Sahling, H, Bohrmann, G and Peckmann, J (2009) Mineralization of vestimentiferan tubes at methane seeps on the Congo deep sea fan. Deep-Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, 56 (2). 283 - 293 . ISSN 0967-0637


Vestimentiferan tube worms are prominent members of modern methane seep communities and are totally reliant as adults on symbiotic sulphide-oxidizing bacteria for their nutrition. The sulphide is produced in the sediment by a biochemical reaction called the anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM). A well studied species from the Gulf of Mexico shows that seep vestimentiferans ‘mine’ sulphide from the sediment using root-like, thin walled, permeable posterior tube extensions, which can also be used to pump sulphate and possibly hydrogen ions from the soft tissue back into the sediment to increase the local rate of AOM. The ‘root-balls’ of exhumed seep vestimentiferans are often associated with carbonate nodules, which are a result of AOM reactions. We have studied vestimentiferan specimens and associated carbonates from seeps at the Kouilou pockmark field on the Congo deep sea fan and find that some of the posterior ‘root’ tubes are partially or completely replaced by the carbonate mineral aragonite. This replacement occurs from the outside of the tube wall inwards and leaves fine-scale relict textures of the original organic tube wall. The process of mineralization is unknown, but is likely a result of post-mortem microbial decay of the tube wall proteins by bacteria and/or the precipitation from locally high flux of AOM derived carbonate ions. The aragonite replaced tubes from the Kouilou pockmarks show many similar features to carbonate tubes in ancient seep deposits and make it more likely that many of these fossil tubes are those of vestimentiferans, which has important implications for the supposed origination of this group, based on molecular divergence estimates.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Congo, Aragonite, Tube mineralization, Vestimentiferans
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Earth and Environment (Leeds) > Institute of Geological Sciences (Leeds)
Depositing User: Symplectic Publications
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2011 15:08
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2014 03:55
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr.2008.08.007
Status: Published
Publisher: Elsevier Science
Identification Number: 10.1016/j.dsr.2008.08.007
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/43150

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