Dissolved organic carbon in basalt-hosted deep subseafloor fluids of the Juan de Fuca Ridge flank

TitleDissolved organic carbon in basalt-hosted deep subseafloor fluids of the Juan de Fuca Ridge flank
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsLin, H-T, Repeta, DJ, Xu, L, Rappé, MS
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Pagination156 - 165
Date PublishedJan-05-2019
Keywordsaromatic organic compound, basaltic basement fluid, carbon isotopes, dissolved organic carbon, Juan de Fuca, selective removal, subseafloor

Marine dissolved organic carbon (DOC) is highly depleted in radiocarbon and thus inferred to be largely refractory to removal processes that operate on less than millennial timescales. However, a growing number of reports have shown that a large fraction of marine DOC can be effectively removed during circulation through submarine hydrothermal systems. What is not clear, however, is whether the DOC that remains in hydrothermal fluids is remnant non-reactive DOC from recharged seawater, or DOC that has been largely produced in the subsurface. We collected and characterized warm (∼65 °C) hydrothermal fluids from deep (18, 40, 73, 200 m) within the basalt-hosted basement of the Juan de Fuca Ridge flank in the Northeast Pacific Ocean. DOC concentrations in hydrothermal fluids were 9 to 18 μM, much lower than measured in local deep seawater (37.5 μM). DOC C values of −683‰ to −856‰ were much lower than the C-dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) values of −880‰ to −918‰, while DOC C values of −23.6‰ to −27.0‰ were much heavier than that of the particulate organic carbon (POC) pool (‰), suggesting that biological production in the subsurface is not a primary source of DOC. Rather, our data suggest that isotopically enriched DOC are selectively removed from recharged seawater, leaving DOC that is very isotopically depleted in the basaltic basement fluids. Despite the removal of 50–75% of DOC in the subsurface, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) functional group analyses indicate that aromatic compounds were added to basaltic basement fluids during passage through the deep subseafloor and may partly contribute to the depleted 14C DOC in the ridge-flank basement fluids.