The biology of a shallow-water methane vent Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/h989r610g

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  • In September of 1989, the site of an active seafloor methane vent was confirmed approximately 20 km off the coast of Oregon in shelf waters 135 m deep. The location of the vent had been described to Oregon State University oceanographers by a local commercial fisherman. Preliminary observations in 1989 suggested that biological activity near the vent was high. In analogy to other known venting phenomena, it was proposed that the methane served as an energy source fueling enhanced biological productivity. This thesis addresses this hypothesis as a portion of a larger project which investigates the biology, geology and chemistry of shallow-water methane vents on the Oregon shelf. The data presented within are the results of a second oceanographic cruise to the site in September, 1990. Samples of benthic and pelagic organisms were collected near the vent and compared to collections from background sites in terms of quantitative abundance of organisms, qualitative community composition and ratios of the stable isotopes of C, N, and S. The stable isotope analyses indicate that a significant fraction of vent methane-derived carbon is present in most samples collected near the vent. Despite this, there does not appear to be a major impact on the abundance of any organisms sampled. Several hypotheses are put forward which might explain these results. The findings at this site are compared to what is known about other types of seafloor vents and seeps.
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