School of Earth, Environmental, and Marine Sciences Faculty Publications and Presentations

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Microbial aerobic oxidation is known to be a significant sink of marine methane (CH4), contributing to the relatively minor atmospheric release of this greenhouse gas over vast stretches of the ocean. However, the chemical kinetics of aerobic CH4 oxidation are not well established, making it difficult to predict and assess the extent that CH4 is oxidized in seawater following seafloor release. Here we investigate the kinetics of aerobic CH4 oxidation using mesocosm incubations of fresh seawater samples collected from seep fields in Hudson Canyon, U.S. Atlantic Margin and MC118, Gulf of Mexico to gain a fundamental chemical understanding of this CH4 sink. The goals of this investigation were to determine the response or lag time following CH4 release until more rapid oxidation begins, the reaction order, and the stoichiometry of reactants utilized (i.e., CH4, oxygen, nitrate, phosphate, trace metals) during CH4 oxidation. The results for both Hudson Canyon and MC118 environments show that CH4 oxidation rates sharply increased within less than one month following the CH4 inoculation of seawater. However, the exact temporal characteristics of this more rapid CH4 oxidation varied based on location, possibly dependent on the local circulation and biogeochemical conditions at the point of seawater collection. The data further suggest that methane oxidation behaves as a first‐order kinetic process and that the reaction rate constant remains constant once rapid CH4 oxidation begins.


© 2019, American Geophysical Union. Original published version available at

Publication Title

Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans





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