This study investigates the morphology, mineralogy, and geochemistry of seafloor massive sulfide (SMS) deposits from six back-arc hydrothermal vent fields along the Eastern Lau Spreading Center (ELSC) and Valu Fa Ridge (VFR) in the context of endmember vent fluid chemistry and proximity to the Tonga Subduction Zone. To complement deposit geochemistry, vent fluid analyses of Cu, Zn, Ba, Pb and H2,(aq)were completed to supplement existing data and enable thermodynamic calculations of mineral saturation states at in situ conditions. Results document southward increases in the abundance of mantle-incompatible elements in hydrothermal fluids (Ba and Pb) and SMS deposits (Ba, Pb, As, and Sb), which is also expressed in the abundance of barite (BaSO4) and galena (PbS) in SMS deposits. These increases correspond to a decrease in distance between the ELSC/VFR and the Tonga Subduction Zone that correlates with a change in crustal lithology from back-arc basin basalt in the north to mixed andesite, rhyolite, and dacite in the south. Barite influences deposit morphology, contributing to the formation of horizontal flanges and squat terraces. Results are also consistent with a regional-scale lowering of hydrothermal reaction zone temperatures from north to south (except at the southernmost Mariner vent field) that leads to lower-temperature, higher-pH vent fluids relative to mid-ocean ridges of similar spreading rates (Mottl et al., 2011). These fluids are Cu- and Zn-poor and the deposits formed from these fluids are Cu-poor but Zn-rich. In contrast, at the Mariner vent field, higher-temperature and lower pH vent fluids are hypothesized to result from higher reaction zone temperatures and the localized addition of acidic magmatic volatiles (Mottl et al., 2011). The Mariner fluids are Cu- and Zn-rich and vent from SMS deposits that are rich in Cu but poor in Zn with moderate amounts of Pb. Thermodynamic calculations indicate that the contrasting metal contents of vent fluids and SMS deposits can be accounted for by vent fluid pH. Wurtzite/sphalerite ((Zn, Fe)S) and galena (PbS) are saturated at higher temperatures in higher-pH, Zn-, Cu-, and Pb-poor ELSC/VFR vent fluids, but are undersaturated at similar temperatures in low-pH, Zn-, Cu-, and Pb-rich vent fluids from the Mariner vent field.
Indicators of pH in the ELSC and VFR SMS deposits include the presence of co-precipitated wurtzite and chalcopyrite along conduit linings in deposits formed from higher pH fluids, and different correlations between concentrations of Zn and Ag in bulk geochemical analyses. Significant positive bulk geochemical Zn:Ag correlations occur for deposits at vent fields where hydrothermal fluids have a minimum pH (at 25 °C) < 3.3, while correlations of Zn:Ag are weak or negative for deposits at vent fields where the minimum vent fluid pH (at 25 °C) > 3.6. Data show that the compositions of the mineral linings of open conduit chimneys (minerals present, mol% FeS in (Zn,Fe)S) that precipitate directly from hydrothermal fluids closely reflect the temperature and sulfur fugacity of sampled hydrothermal fluids. These mineral lining compositions thus can be used as indicators of hydrothermal fluid temperature and composition (pH, metal content, sulfur fugacity).
AbstractLittle is known about evolutionary drivers of microbial populations in the warm subseafloor of deep-sea hydrothermal vents. Here we reconstruct 73 metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) from two geochemically distinct vent fields in the Mid-Cayman Rise to investigate patterns of genomic variation within subseafloor populations. Low-abundance populations with high intra-population diversity coexist alongside high-abundance populations with low genomic diversity, with taxonomic differences in patterns of genomic variation between the mafic Piccard and ultramafic Von Damm vent fields. Populations from Piccard are significantly enriched in nonsynonymous mutations, suggesting stronger purifying selection in Von Damm relative to Piccard. Comparison of nine Sulfurovum MAGs reveals two high-coverage, low-diversity MAGs from Piccard enriched in unique genes related to the cellular membrane, suggesting these populations were subject to distinct evolutionary pressures that may correlate with genes related to nutrient uptake, biofilm formation, or viral invasion. These results are consistent with distinct evolutionary histories between geochemically different vent fields, with implications for understanding evolutionary processes in subseafloor microbial populations.
|Project Title||An Integrated Study of Energy Metabolism, Carbon Fixation, and Colonization Mechanisms in Chemosynthetic Microbial Communities at Deep-Sea Vents|
|Acronym||Microbial Communities at Deep-Sea Vents|
|Created||June 11, 2012|
|Modified||June 11, 2012|
Deep-sea hydrothermal vents, first discovered in 1977, are poster child ecosystems where microbial chemosynthesis rather than photosynthesis is the primary source of organic carbon. Significant gaps remain in our understanding of the underlying microbiology and biogeochemistry of these fascinating ecosystems. Missing are the identification of specific microorganisms mediating critical reactions in various geothermal systems, metabolic pathways used by the microbes, rates of the catalyzed reactions, amounts of organic carbon being produced, and the larger role of these ecosystems in global biogeochemical cycles. To fill these gaps, the investigators will conduct a 3-year interdisciplinary, international hypothesis-driven research program to understand microbial processes and their quantitative importance at deep-sea vents. Specifically, the investigators will address the following objectives: 1. Determine key relationships between the taxonomic, genetic and functional diversity, as well as the mechanisms of energy and carbon transfer, in deep-sea hydrothermal vent microbial communities. 2. Identify the predominant metabolic pathways and thus the main energy sources driving chemoautotrophic production in high and low temperature diffuse flow vents. 3. Determine energy conservation efficiency and rates of aerobic and anaerobic chemosynthetic primary productivity in high and low temperature diffuse flow vents. 4. Determine gene expression patterns in diffuse-flow vent microbial communities during attachment to substrates and the development of biofilms.
Integration: To address these objectives and to characterize the complexity of microbially-catalyzed processes at deep-sea vents at a qualitatively new level, we will pursue an integrated approach that couples an assessment of taxonomic diversity using cultivation-dependent and -independent approaches with methodologies that address genetic diversity, including a) metagenomics (genetic potential and diversity of community), b) single cell genomics (genetic potential and diversity of uncultured single cells), c) meta-transcriptomics and -proteomics (identification and function of active community members, realized potential of the community). To assess function and response to the environment, these approaches will be combined with 1) measurement of in situ rates of chemoautotrophic production, 2) geochemical characterization of microbial habitats, and 3) shipboard incubations under simulated in situ conditions (hypothesis testing under controlled physicochemical conditions). Network approaches and mathematical simulation will be used to reconstruct the metabolic network of the natural communities. A 3-day long project meeting towards the end of the second year will take place in Woods Hole. This Data Integration and Synthesis meeting will allow for progress reports and presentations from each PI, postdoc, and/or student, with the aim of synthesizing data generated to facilitate the preparation of manuscripts.
Intellectual Merit. Combining the community expression profile with diversity and metagenomic analyses as well as process and habitat characterization will be unique to hydrothermal vent microbiology. The approach will provide new insights into the functioning of deep-sea vent microbial communities and the constraints regulating the interactions between the microbes and their abiotic and biotic environment, ultimately enabling us to put these systems into a quantitative framework and thus a larger global context.
Broader Impacts. This is an interdisciplinary and collaborative effort between 4 US and 4 foreign institutions, creating unique opportunities for networking and fostering international collaborations. This will also benefit the involved students (2 graduate, several undergraduate) and 2 postdoctoral associates. This project will directly contribute to many educational and public outreach activities of the involved PIs, including the WHOI Dive & Discover program; single cell genomics workshops and Cafe Scientifique (Bigelow); REU (WHOI, Bigelow, CIW); COSEE and RIOS (Rutgers), and others. The proposed research fits with the focus of a number of multidisciplinary and international initiatives, in which PIs are active members (SCOR working group on Hydrothermal energy and the ocean carbon cycle, http://www.scorint. org/Working_Groups/wg135.htm; Deep Carbon Observatory at CIW, https://dco.gl.ciw.edu/; Global Biogeochemical Flux (GBF) component of the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI), http://www.whoi.edu/GBF-OOI/page.do?pid=41475)
|Stefan M. Sievert||Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)||Lead Principal Investigator|
|Costantino Vetriani||Rutgers University||Principal Investigator|
|Dionysis I. Foustoukos||Carnegie Institution for Science (CIS)||Principal Investigator|
|Ramunas Stepanauskas||Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences||Principal Investigator|
|Craig Taylor||Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)||Co-Principal Investigator|
|Jeffrey S. Seewald||Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)||Co-Principal Investigator|
|Nadine Le Bris||Laboratoire d'Écogéochimie des Environnements Benthiques (LECOB)||International Collaborator|
|Niculina Musat||Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology (MPI)||International Collaborator|
|Thomas Schweder||University of Greifswald||International Collaborator|
|Fengping Wang||Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU)||International Collaborator|