Authigenic carbonates were sampled in piston cores collected from both the Tunica Mound and the Mississippi Canyon area on the continental slope of the northern Gulf of Mexico during a Marion Dufresne cruise in July 2002. The carbonates are present as hardgrounds, porous crusts, concretions or nodules and shell fragments with or without carbonate cements. Carbonates occurred at gas venting sites which are likely to overlie gas hydrates bearing sediments. Electron microprobe, X-ray diffraction (XRD) and thinsection investigations show that these carbonates are high-Mg calcite (6-21??mol% MgCO3), with significant presence of framboidal pyrite. All carbonates are depleted in 13C (??13C = - 61.9 to - 31.5??? PDB) indicating that the carbon is derived mainly from anaerobic methane oxidation (AMO). Age estimates based on 14C dating of shell fragments and on regional sedimentation rates indicate that these authigenic carbonates formed within the last 1000??yr in the Mississippi Canyon and within 5500??yr at the Tunica Mound. The oxygen isotopic composition of carbonates ranges from + 3.4 to + 5.9??? PDB. Oxygen isotopic compositions and Mg2+ contents of carbonates, and present in-situ temperatures of bottom seawater/sediments, show that some of these carbonates, especially from a core associated with underlying massive gas hydrates precipitated in or near equilibrium with bottom-water. On the other hand, those carbonates more enriched in 18O are interpreted to have precipitated from 18O-rich fluids which are thought to have been derived from the dissociation of gas hydrates. The dissociation of gas hydrates in the northern Gulf of Mexico within the last 5500??yr may be caused by nearby salt movement and related brines. ?? 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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Methane-derived authigenic carbonates from the northern Gulf of Mexico - MD02 Cruise