Methane sources, fluid flow, and diagenesis along the northern Cascadia Margin; using authigenic carbonates and pore waters to link modern fluid flow to the past Public Deposited

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  • Methane derived authigenic carbonate (MDAC) precipitation occurs within marine sediments as a byproduct of the microbial anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM). While these carbonates form in chemical and isotopic equilibrium with the fluids from which they precipitate, burial diagenesis and recrystallization can overprint these signals. Plane polarized light (PPL) and cathodoluminescent (CL) petrography have allowed for detailed characterization of carbonate phases and their subsequent alteration. Modern MDACs sampled offshore in northern Cascadia (n =33) are compared with paleoseep carbonates (n =13) uplifted on the Olympic Peninsula in order to elucidate primary vs. secondary signals, with relevance to interpretations of the carbonate record. The modern offshore environment (S. Hydrate Ridge and Barkley Canyon) is dominated by metastable acicular and microcrystalline aragonite and hi-Mg calcite (HMC) that with time will recrystallize to low-Mg calcite (LMC). The diagenetic progression is accompanied by a decrease in Mg/Ca and Sr/Ca ratios while variation in Ba/Ca depends upon the Ba-concentration of fluids that spur recrystallization. CL images discern primary carbonates with high Mn/Ca from secondary phases that reflect the Mn- enrichment that characterizes deep sourced fluids venting at Barkley Canyon. Methane along the Cascadia continental margin is mainly of biogenic origin, where reported strontium isotopic values reflect a mixture of seawater with fluids modified by reactions with the incoming Juan de Fuca plate. In contrast, the Sr-isotopic composition of carbonates and fluids from Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Site U1329 and nearby Barkley Canyon point to a distinct endmember (lowest ⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr = 0.70539). These carbonates also show elevated Mn/Ca and δ¹⁸O values as low as -12‰, consistent with a deep-source of fluids feeding thermogenic hydrocarbons to the Barkley Canyon seeps. Two paleoseep carbonates sampled from the uplifted Pysht/Sooke Fm. have ⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr values similar to those of the anomalous Site U1329 and Barkley Canyon carbonates (⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr = 0.70494 and 0.70511). We postulate that the ⁸⁷Sr-depleted carbonates and pore fluids found at Barkley Canyon represent migration by the same type of deep, exotic fluid as is found in high permeability conglomerate layers down to 190 mbsf at Site U1329, and which fed paleoseeps in the Pysht/Sooke Fm. These exotic fluids likely reflect interaction with the 52-57 Ma igneous Crescent Terrane, which is located down-dip from both Barkley Canyon and Site U1329. This previously unidentified endmember fluid in northern Cascadia may have sourced cold seeps in this margin since at least the late Oligocene.
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