Articles | Volume 9, issue 8
Biogeosciences, 9, 2859–2878, 2012
Biogeosciences, 9, 2859–2878, 2012

Research article 01 Aug 2012

Research article | 01 Aug 2012

A two-dimensional model of the passive coastal margin deep sedimentary carbon and methane cycles

D. E. Archer1, B. A. Buffett2, and P. C. McGuire1 D. E. Archer et al.
  • 1Department of the Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, USA
  • 2Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California, Berkeley, USA

Abstract. We present a new geologic-time and basin-spatial scale model of the continental margin methane cycle. The model, SpongeBOB, is used to simulate evolution of the carbon cycle in a passive sedimentary continental margin in response to changing oceanographic and geologic forcing over a time scale of 200 million years. The geochemistry of the sediment column is altered by the addition of vertical high-permeability channels intended to mimic the effects of heterogeneity in the real sediment column due to faults, and produces results consistent with measured pore-water tracers SO42− and 129I. Pore water dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) concentrations are consistent with chemical weathering (CaCO3 formation from igneous rocks) at depth within the sediment column. The carbon isotopic composition of the DIC is consistent with a methane production efficiency from particulate organic carbon (POC) of 50%, which is somewhat lower than redox balance with the H / C of organic matter in the model. The hydrate inventory in the model is somewhat less sensitive to temperature than our previous results with a one-dimensional model, quite sensitive to reasonable changes in POC, and extremely sensitive to the ability of methane bubbles to rise within the sediment column, and how far gas-phase methane can get through the sediment column before it redissolves when it reaches undersaturated conditions. Hydrate formation is also sensitive to deep respiration of migrating petroleum. Other phenomena which we simulated had only a small impact on the hydrate inventory, including thermogenic methane production and production/decomposition of dissolved organic carbon.

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