Biogeochemical cycles at the sulfate-methane transition zone (SMTZ) and geochemical characteristics of the pore fluids offshore southwestern Taiwan

Ching Yi Hu, Tsanyao Frank Yang, George S. Burr, Pei Chuan Chuang, Hsuan Wen Chen, Monika Walia, Nai Chen Chen, Yu Chun Huang, Saulwood Lin, Yunshuen Wang, San Hsiung Chung, Chin Da Huang, Cheng Hong Chen

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19 Scopus citations


In this study, we used pore water dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), SO4 2−, Ca2+ and Mg2+ gradients at the sulfate-methane transition zone (SMTZ) to estimate biogeochemical fluxes for cored sediments collected offshore SW Taiwan. Net DIC flux changes (ΔDIC-Prod) were applied to determine the proportion of sulfate consumption by organic matter oxidation (heterotrophic sulfate reduction) and anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM), and to determine reliable CH4 fluxes at the SMTZ. Our results show that SO4 2− profiles are mainly controlled by AOM rather than heterotrophic sulfate reduction. Refinement of CH4 flux estimates enhance our understanding of methane abundance from deep carbon reservoirs to the SMTZ. Concentrations of chloride (Cl), bromide (Br) and iodide (I) dissolved in pore water were used to identify potential sources that control fluid compositions and the behavior of dissolved ions. Constant Cl concentrations throughout ∼30 m sediment suggest no influence of gas hydrates for the compositions within the core. Bromide (Br) and Iodine (I) concentrations increase with sediment depth. The I/Br ratio appears to reflect organic matter degradation. SO4 2− concentrations decrease with sediment depth at a constant rate, and sediment depth profiles of Br and I concentrations suggests diffusion as the main transport mechanism. Therefore diffusive flux calculations are reasonable. Coring sites with high CH4 fluxes are more common in the accretionary wedge, amongst thrust faults and fractures, than in the passive continental margin offshore southwestern Taiwan. AOM reactions are a major sink for CH4 passing upward through the SMTZ and prevent high methane fluxes in the water column and to the atmosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-183
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Asian Earth Sciences
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • Gas hydrate
  • Halogen
  • Methane
  • Offshore SW Taiwan
  • SMTZ


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