Continental smokers couple mantle degassing and distinctive microbiology within continents

TitleContinental smokers couple mantle degassing and distinctive microbiology within continents
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsCrossey LJ, Karlstrom KE, Schmandt B, Crow RR, Colman DR, Cron B, Takacs-Vesbach CD, Dahm CN, Northup DE, Hilton DR, Ricketts JW, Lowry AR
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Date Published2016/02
ISBN Number0012-821X
KeywordsCO2 flux; noble gases; travertine; western U.S. mantle; Zetaproteobacteria

The discovery of oceanic black (and white) smokers revolutionized our understanding of mid-ocean ridges and led to the recognition of new organisms and ecosystems. Continental smokers, defined here to include a broad range of carbonic springs, hot springs, and fumaroles that vent mantle-derived fluids in continental settings, exhibit many of the same processes of heat and mass transfer and ecosystem niche differentiation. Helium isotope (3He/4He) analyses indicate that widespread mantle degassing is taking place in the western U.S.A., and that variations in mantle helium values correlate best with low seismic-velocity domains in the mantle and lateral contrasts in mantle velocity rather than crustal parameters such as GPS, proximity to volcanoes, crustal velocity, or composition. Microbial community analyses indicate that these springs can host novel microorganisms. A targeted analysis of four springs in New Mexico yield the first published occurrence of chemolithoautotrophic Zetaproteobacteria in a continental setting. These observations lead to two linked hypotheses: that mantle-derived volatiles transit through conduits in extending continental lithosphere preferentially above and at the edges of mantle low velocity domains. High CO2 and other constituents ultimately derived from mantle volatiles drive water–rock interactions and heterogeneous fluid mixing that help structure diverse and distinctive microbial communities.

Short TitleEarth Planet. Sci. Lett.
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