From thermodynamic modeling to biota complexity in vent and seep systems
W. Bach, N. Dublier, R. Amann, T. Pichler
D. Birgel, G. Bohrmann, C. Borowski, Y.-J. Huang, N. Jöns, A. Meyerdierks, M. Mußmann, F. Klein, A. Klügel, J. Peckmann, R. Price, A. Ramette, H. Sahling, C. Vogt
The exchange of heat, solutes, and genes between the oceans and the subseafloor has dominated the chemical and biological evolution of the Earth from its beginning. Much of the biomass production in the deep sea is related to the microbial conversion of reduced chemical species, called geofuels here, that rise up from the deep Earth in magmatic and hydrothermal systems. Understanding the relations and feedbacks between the supply and distribution of geofuels and their biological utilization in different submarine settings is the primary goal of Research Area Hydrothermal Vents. This is to be achieved by closely coupled petrologic, geochemical, and biological studies that include: magma evolution, water-rock reactions and fluid flow, fluid chemistry, mineral-microbe interactions, genomics, and deep sea ecology and biogeography. Our approach is to focus on the transfer of energy in coupled geological-biological systems. How is energy supplied? How is it partitioned? How is it controlled? How is it converted? Only closely coupled petrological, geochemical, and biological studies will provide a framework for understanding important feedbacks and controls at the interface between the oceanic lithosphere, hydrosphere, and the biosphere. A combination of state-of-the-art deep sea technologies, in situ measurements and experiments, molecular chemical and biological methods, isotope geochemical tools, as well as numerical modeling of reactive-coupled heat and fluid transport will be employed in achieving these goals. The study sites will encompass a wide range of tectonic settings, such as seamounts, ridge axes, and suprasubduction zones. This geological diversity will provide the background for gaining a better understanding of how geofuel sources and supply influence the chemistry and biology of the Earth’s oceans.