Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Geochemical data on methane flux and retention in sediments extracted from literature and analyzed

Result description:
A comprehensive database was established integrating biogeochemical key parameters to determine the methane flux and retention in marine sediments based on existing data in literature. The aim of this extensive data collection and information acquisition is to provide easy access to these data for further investigations, such as the compilation of data on methane fluxes in marine sediments for a flux budget and to estimate the amount of methane.

For this purpose literature was acquired to gain useful data for extraction and analysis. Published data of specific parameters e.g. methane, sulfate, rates of anaerobic methane oxidation (AOM) or sulfate reduction rates were extracted from the literature and entered into the new database. The user friendly data query of the new database will give an easy and fast access to a huge amount of data and thus provides a useful tool for further investigation of various biogeochemical processes directly or indirectly related to methane and sulfate in marine sediments. Additionally, if not available, fluxes were calculated or modelled and also entered into the database. One important finding of this work is the rather low amount of coherent published datasets.

Finally, a comparison with the carbon cycle in the sediment could give information on the amount of organic carbon necessary to produce the measured concentrations of methane below the sulfate/methane transition zone (SMTZ).

Current status and use:
So far, all available data from sediment cores from the North Sea, Baltic Sea, Skagerrak, Kattegat and the Black Sea were edited and analysed. This resulted in approximately 3000 extracted and calculated data points, which were formatted and entered into the established database.

An expansion of the geochemical database established in this project is in progress (planned to be continued until approx. end of 2006). All relevant data gained by the METROL project will be integrated, which focused on the locations named above. Also global methane and sulfate data will be entered into the database. To elevate the density of data supplementary datasets from existent databases will be integrated e.g. data gained by the Ocean Drilling Project (ODP).

In this way the rising amount of data scattered all over the globe is channelled and categorized for a more efficient scientific output and a big step ahead towards reliable budgeting of e. g. methane fluxes on at least regional scales.

Key innovative features:
This extensive compilation of specific data edited into a newly established database provides an easy and fast access to a huge amount of information for further investigation of various biogeochemical processes. The aim of this extensive data collection and their processing will provide for the first time easily accessible data e.g. to calculate global budgets of methane in marine sediments.

Dissemination & use potential:
Scientific community (especially working in fields of biogeochemistry and geochemistry)

Expected benefits:
As a next step after incorporating data collected worldwide we will compare the calculated and modelled methane fluxes with environmental settings and water depths. Furthermore, AOM rates will be compared with sulfate reduction rates, and a global methane flux budget will be drawn. The results as well as visualizations of the data will be published in international journals. The data compiled in this project will also provide a good basis for additional investigations regarding the sulfur cycle and the global sulfur budget. In conjunction with new knowledge on shallow gas turnover gained from METROL (TIP result on the GIS database on methane in surface sediments and related seafloor features) we intend to discover interrelationships between geological, geophysical and biogeochemical parameters which will enable an explanation of the distribution of free methane gas in the upper sediments of the North Sea. Combining these research areas represents a new approach, as integrative analyses of such data have not been done before.

Reported by

Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology
Celsiusstr. 1
28359 Bremen
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