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Compositions of dissolved organic matter in the ice-covered waters above the Aurora hydrothermal vent system, Gakkel Ridge, Arctic Ocean

New publication by Muhammed Fatih Sert, Helge Niemann, Eoghan P. Reeves, Mats A. Granskog, Kevin P. Hand, Timo Kekäläinen, Janne Jänis, Pamela E. Rossel, Bénédicte Ferré, Anna Silyakova, and Friederike Gründger


Hydrothermal vents modify and displace subsurface dissolved organic matter (DOM) into the ocean. Once in the ocean, this DOM is transported together with elements, particles, dissolved gases and biomass along with the neutrally buoyant plume layer. Considering the number and extent of actively venting hydrothermal sites in the oceans, their contribution to the oceanic DOM pool may be substantial. Here, we investigate the dynamics of DOM in relation to hydrothermal venting and related processes at the as yet unexplored Aurora hydrothermal vent field within the ultraslow-spreading Gakkel Ridge in the Arctic Ocean at 82.9 N. We examined the vertical distribution of DOM composition from sea ice to deep waters at six hydrocast stations distal to the active vent and its neutrally buoyant plume layer. In comparison to background seawater, we found that the DOM in waters directly affected by the hydrothermal plume was molecularly less diverse and 5 %–10 % lower in number of molecular formulas associated with the molecular categories related to lipid and protein-like compounds. On the other hand, samples that were not directly affected by the plume were chemically more diverse and had a higher percentage of chemical formulas associated with the carbohydrate-like category. Our results suggest that hydrothermal processes at Aurora may influence the DOM distribution in the bathypelagic ocean by spreading more thermally and/or chemically induced compositions, while DOM compositions in epipelagic and mesopelagic layers are mainly governed by the microbial carbon pump dynamics and surface-ocean–sea-ice interactions.