Carbon mineralization and carbonate preservation in modern cold-water coral reef sediments on the Norwegian shelf
- 1Biogeochemistry Research Group, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Celsiusstrasse 1, 28359 Bremen, Germany
- 2Coral Reef Ecology Work Group (CORE), GeoBio-Center, Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Richard-Wagner-Strasse 10, 80333 München, Germany
- 3Renard Centre of Marine Geology, Department of Geology and Soil Science, Ghent University, Krijgslaan 281 s.8, 9000 Gent, Belgium
- 4School of Engineering and Science, Jacobs University Bremen, Campus Ring 1, 28759 Bremen, Germany
Abstract. Cold-water coral ecosystems are considered hot-spots of biodiversity and biomass production and may be a regionally important contributor to carbonate production. The impact of these ecosystems on biogeochemical processes and carbonate preservation in associated sediments were studied at Røst Reef and Traenadjupet Reef, two modern (post-glacial) cold-water coral reefs on the Mid-Norwegian shelf. Sulfate and iron reduction as well as carbonate dissolution and precipitation were investigated by combining pore-water geochemical profiles, steady state modeling, as well as solid phase analyses and sulfate reduction rate measurements on gravity cores of up to 3.25 m length. Low extents of sulfate depletion and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) production, combined with sulfate reduction rates not exceeding 3 nmol S cm−3 d−1, suggested that overall anaerobic carbon mineralization in the sediments was low. These data showed that the coral fragment-bearing siliciclastic sediments were effectively decoupled from the productive pelagic ecosystem by the complex reef surface framework. Organic matter being mineralized by sulfate reduction was calculated to consist of 57% carbon bound in CH2O groups and 43% carbon in -CH2- groups. Methane concentrations were below 1 μM, and failed to support the hypothesis of a linkage between the distribution of cold-water coral reefs and the presence of hydrocarbon seepage. Reductive iron oxide dissolution linked to microbial sulfate reduction buffered the pore-water carbonate system and inhibited acid-driven coral skeleton dissolution. A large pool of reactive iron was available leading to the formation of iron sulfide minerals. Constant pore-water Ca2+, Mg2+ and Sr2+ concentrations in most cores and decreasing Ca2+ and Sr2+ concentrations with depth in core 23–18 GC indicated diagenetic carbonate precipitation. This was consistent with the excellent preservation of buried coral fragments.