Microbial Communities on Seafloor Basalts at Dorado Outcrop Reflect Level of Alteration and Highlight Global Lithic Clades.
ABSTRACT: Areas of exposed basalt along mid-ocean ridges and at seafloor outcrops serve as conduits of fluid flux into and out of a subsurface ocean, and microbe-mineral interactions can influence alteration reactions at the rock-water interface. Located on the eastern flank of the East Pacific Rise, Dorado Outcrop is a site of low-temperature (<20°C) hydrothermal venting and represents a new end-member in the current survey of seafloor basalt biomes. Consistent with prior studies, a survey of 16S rRNA gene sequence diversity using universal primers targeting the V4 hypervariable region revealed much greater richness and diversity on the seafloor rocks than in surrounding seawater. Overall, Gamma-, Alpha-, and Deltaproteobacteria, and Thaumarchaeota dominated the sequenced communities, together making up over half of the observed diversity, though bacterial sequences were more abundant than archaeal in all samples. The most abundant bacterial reads were closely related to the obligate chemolithoautotrophic, sulfur-oxidizing Thioprofundum lithotrophicum, suggesting carbon and sulfur cycling as dominant metabolic pathways in this system. Representatives of Thaumarchaeota were detected in relatively high abundance on the basalts in comparison to bottom water, possibly indicating ammonia oxidation. In comparison to other sequence datasets from globally distributed seafloor basalts, this study reveals many overlapping and cosmopolitan phylogenetic groups and also suggests that substrate age correlates with community structure.
Project description:The oceanic crust forms two thirds of the Earth's surface and hosts a large phylogenetic and functional diversity of microorganisms. While advances have been made in the sedimentary realm, our understanding of the igneous rock portion as a microbial habitat has remained limited. We present the first comparative metagenomic microbial community analysis from ocean floor basalt environments at the L?'ihi Seamount, Hawai'i, and the East Pacific Rise (EPR; 9°N). Phylogenetic analysis indicates the presence of a total of 43 bacterial and archaeal mono-phyletic groups, dominated by Alpha- and Gammaproteobacteria, as well as Thaumarchaeota. Functional gene analysis suggests that these Thaumarchaeota play an important role in ammonium oxidation on seafloor basalts. In addition to ammonium oxidation, the seafloor basalt habitat reveals a wide spectrum of other metabolic potentials, including CO2 fixation, denitrification, dissimilatory sulfate reduction, and sulfur oxidation. Basalt communities from L?'ihi and the EPR show considerable metabolic and phylogenetic overlap down to the genus level despite geographic distance and slightly different seafloor basalt mineralogy.
Project description:Cool hydrothermal systems (CHSs) are prevalent across the seafloor and discharge fluid volumes that rival oceanic input from rivers, yet the microbial ecology of these systems are poorly constrained. The Dorado Outcrop on the ridge flank of the Cocos Plate in the northeastern tropical Pacific Ocean is the first confirmed CHS, discharging minimally altered <15°C fluid from the shallow lithosphere through diffuse venting and seepage. In this paper, we characterize the resident sediment microbial communities influenced by cool hydrothermal advection, which is evident from nitrate and oxygen concentrations. 16S rRNA gene sequencing revealed that Thaumarchaea, Proteobacteria, and Planctomycetes were the most abundant phyla in all sediments across the system regardless of influence from seepage. Members of the Thaumarchaeota (Marine Group I), Alphaproteobacteria (Rhodospirillales), Nitrospirae, Nitrospina, Acidobacteria, and Gemmatimonadetes were enriched in the sediments influenced by CHS advection. Of the various geochemical parameters investigated, nitrate concentrations correlated best with microbial community structure, indicating structuring based on seepage of nitrate-rich fluids. A comparison of microbial communities from hydrothermal sediments, seafloor basalts, and local seawater at Dorado Outcrop showed differences that highlight the distinct niche space in CHS. Sediment microbial communities from Dorado Outcrop differ from those at previously characterized, warmer CHS sediment, but are similar to deep-sea sediment habitats with surficial ferromanganese nodules, such as the Clarion Clipperton Zone. We conclude that cool hydrothermal venting at seafloor outcrops can alter the local sedimentary oxidation-reduction pathways, which in turn influences the microbial communities within the fluid discharge affected sediment.
Project description:Seafloor basalts are widely distributed and host diverse prokaryotic communities, but no data exist concerning the metabolic rates of the resident microbial communities. We present here potential extracellular enzyme activities of leucine aminopeptidase (LAP) and alkaline phosphatase (AP) measured on basalt samples from different locations on Loihi Seamount, HI, coupled with analysis of prokaryotic biomass and pyrosequencing of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene. The community maximum potential enzyme activity (Vmax) of LAP ranged from 0.47 to 0.90 nmol (g rock)(-1) h(-1); the Vmax for AP was 28 to 60 nmol (g rock)(-1) h(-1). The Km of LAP ranged from 26 to 33 ?M, while the Km for AP was 2 to 7 ?M. Bacterial communities on Loihi basalts were comprised primarily of Alpha-, Delta-, andGammaproteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, and Planctomycetes. The putative ability to produce LAP is evenly distributed across the most commonly detected bacterial orders, but the ability to produce AP is likely dominated by bacteria in the orders Xanthomonadales, Flavobacteriales, and Planctomycetales. The enzyme activities on Loihi basalts were compared to those of other marine environments that have been studied and were found to be similar in magnitude to those from continental shelf sediments and orders of magnitude higher than any measured in the water column, demonstrating that the potential for exposed basalts to transform organic matter is substantial. We propose that microbial communities on basaltic rock play a significant, quantifiable role in benthic biogeochemical processes.
Project description:We present an interlaboratory comparison between full-length 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis and terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (TRFLP) for microbial communities hosted on seafloor basaltic lavas, with the goal of evaluating how similarly these two different DNA-based methods used in two independent labs would estimate the microbial diversity of the same basalt samples. Two samples were selected for these analyses based on differences detected in the overall levels of microbial diversity between them. Richness estimators indicate that TRFLP analysis significantly underestimates the richness of the relatively high-diversity seafloor basalt microbial community: at least 50% of species from the high-diversity site are missed by TRFLP. However, both methods reveal similar dominant species from the samples, and they predict similar levels of relative diversity between the two samples. Importantly, these results suggest that DNA-extraction or PCR-related bias between the two laboratories is minimal. We conclude that TRFLP may be useful for relative comparisons of diversity between basalt samples, for identifying dominant species, and for estimating the richness and evenness of low-diversity, skewed populations of seafloor basalt microbial communities, but that TRFLP may miss a majority of species in relatively highly diverse samples.
Project description:Mantle plume-related magmas typically have higher chalcophile and siderophile element (CSE) contents than mid-ocean ridge basalts (MORB). These differences are often attributed to sulfide-under-saturation of plume-related melts. However, because of eruption-related degassing of sulfur (S) and the compositional, pressure, temperature and redox effects on S-solubility, understanding the magmatic behavior of S is challenging. Using CSE data for oceanic plateau basalts (OPB), which rarely degas S, we show that many OPB are sulfide-saturated. Differences in the timing of sulfide-saturation between individual OPB suites can be explained by pressure effects on sulfur solubility associated with ascent through over-thickened crust. Importantly, where S-degassing does occur, OPB have higher CSE contents than S-undegassed melts at similar stages of differentiation. This can be explained by resorption of earlier-formed sulfides, which might play an important role in enriching degassed melts in sulfide-compatible CSE and potentially contributes to anomalous enrichments of CSE in the crust.
Project description:The mantle plume process is thought to be the prevailing dynamic mechanism for the South China Sea opening, but controversy persists due to the lack of critical evidence of magma in the initial seafloor spreading. International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 367 successfully recovered at Site U1500 the mid-ocean ridge basalt (MORB) representing the magma activity of the initial spreading of the South China Sea during the earliest Oligocene. Here we present the whole-rock and olivine phenocryst geochemistry of the basalts to constrain the potential influence of the Hainan mantle plume on the evolution of the South China Sea. Major and trace elemental compositions indicate that the basalts were mainly influenced by fractional crystallization of olivine and formed by melting of a spinel peridotite source without any pyroxenite in mantle source. The calculated mantle potential temperature of those most primitive basalts is much lower than plume-related MORB of Iceland, but similar to normal MORB elsewhere. Both lithological composition and mantle potential temperature clearly contradict with the mantle plume model, signifying that the mantle plume didn't exist at the earliest Oligocene. Therefore, the initial spreading of the South China Sea should be caused by non-plume processes, most likely by the westward subduction of the Pacific Plate.
Project description:Fully characterising the exchange of volatile elements between the Earth's interior and surface layers has been a longstanding challenge. Volatiles scavenged from seawater by hydrothermally altered oceanic crust have been transferred to the upper mantle during subduction of the oceanic crust, but whether these volatiles are carried deeper into the lower mantle is poorly understood. Here we present evidence of the deep-mantle Cl cycle recorded in melt inclusions in olivine crystals in ocean island basalts sourced from the lower mantle. We show that Cl-rich melt inclusions are associated with radiogenic Pb isotopes, indicating ancient subducted oceanic crust in basalt sources, together with lithophile elements characteristic of melts from a carbonated source. These signatures collectively indicate that seawater-altered and carbonated oceanic crust conveyed surface Cl downward to the lower mantle, forming a Cl-rich reservoir that accounts for 13-26% or an even greater proportion of the total Cl in the mantle.
Project description:Small-scale continental flood basalts are a global phenomenon characterized by regular spatio-temporal distributions. However, no genetic mechanism has been proposed to explain the visible but overlooked distribution patterns of these continental basaltic volcanism. Here we present a case study from eastern China, combining major and trace element analyses with Ar-Ar and K-Ar dating to show that the spatio-temporal distribution of small-scale flood basalts is controlled by the growth of long-lived magma chambers. Evolved basalts (SiO2?>?47.5?wt.%) from Xinchang-Shengzhou, a small-scale Cenozoic flood basalt field in Zhejiang province, eastern China, show a northward younging trend over the period 9.4-3.0?Ma. With northward migration, the magmas evolved only slightly ((Na2O?+?K2O)/MgO?=?0.40-0.66; TiO2/MgO?=?0.23-0.35) during about 6?Myr (9.4-3.3?Ma). When the flood basalts reached the northern end of the province, the magmas evolved rapidly (3.3-3.0?Ma) through a broad range of compositions ((Na2O?+?K2O)/MgO?=?0.60-1.28; TiO2/MgO?=?0.30-0.57). The distribution and two-stage compositional evolution of the migrating flood basalts record continuous magma replenishment that buffered against magmatic evolution and induced magma chamber growth. Our results demonstrate that the magma replenishment-magma chamber growth model explains the spatio-temporal distribution of small-scale flood basalts.
Project description:The safe application of geological carbon storage depends also on the seismic hazard associated with fluid injection. In this regard, we performed friction experiments using a rotary shear apparatus on precut basalts with variable degree of hydrothermal alteration by injecting distilled H2O, pure CO2, and H2O + CO2 fluid mixtures under temperature, fluid pressure, and stress conditions relevant for large-scale subsurface CO2 storage reservoirs. In all experiments, seismic slip was preceded by short-lived slip bursts. Seismic slip occurred at equivalent fluid pressures and normal stresses regardless of the fluid injected and degree of alteration of basalts. Injection of fluids caused also carbonation reactions and crystallization of new dolomite grains in the basalt-hosted faults sheared in H2O + CO2 fluid mixtures. Fast mineral carbonation in the experiments might be explained by shear heating during seismic slip, evidencing the high chemical reactivity of basalts to H2O + CO2 mixtures.
Project description:Chemical differences between mid-ocean ridge basalts (MORBs) and ocean island basalts (OIBs) provide critical evidence that the Earth's mantle is compositionally heterogeneous. MORBs generally exhibit a relatively low and narrow range of (3)He/(4)He ratios on a global scale, whereas OIBs display larger variability in both time and space. The primordial origin of (3)He in OIBs has motivated hypotheses that high (3)He/(4)He ratios are the product of mantle plumes sampling chemically distinct material, but do not account for lower MORB-like (3)He/(4)He ratios in OIBs, nor their observed spatial and temporal variability. Here we perform thermochemical convection calculations which show the variable (3)He/(4)He signature of OIBs can be reproduced by deep isolated mantle reservoirs of primordial material that are viscously entrained by thermal plumes. Entrainment is highly time-dependent, producing a wide range of (3)He/(4)He ratios similar to that observed in OIBs worldwide and indicate MORB-like (3)He/(4)He ratios in OIBs cannot be used to preclude deep mantle-sourced hotspots.