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Modeling microbial reaction rates in a submarine hydrothermal vent chimney wall
LaRowe, E; Dale, W; Aguilera, R; L'Heureux, I; Amend, P; Regnier, P. (2014). Modeling microbial reaction rates in a submarine hydrothermal vent chimney wall. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 124: 72-97. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2013.09.005
In: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. Elsevier: Oxford,New York etc.. ISSN 0016-7037; e-ISSN 1872-9533, meer
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  • LaRowe, E
  • Dale, W
  • Aguilera, R
  • L'Heureux, I
  • Amend, P
  • Regnier, P.

Abstract
    The fluids emanating from active submarine hydrothermal vent chimneys provide a window into subseafloor processes and, through mixing with seawater, are responsible for steep thermal and compositional gradients that provide the energetic basis for diverse biological communities. Although several models have been developed to better understand the dynamic interplay of seawater, hydrothermal fluid, minerals and microorganisms inside chimney walls, none provide a fully integrated approach to quantifying the biogeochemistry of these hydrothermal systems. In an effort to remedy this, a fully coupled biogeochemical reaction-transport model of a hydrothermal vent chimney has been developed that explicitly quantifies the rates of microbial catalysis while taking into account geochemical processes such as fluid flow, solute transport and oxidation–reduction reactions associated with fluid mixing as a function of temperature. The metabolisms included in the reaction network are methanogenesis, aerobic oxidation of hydrogen, sulfide and methane and sulfate reduction by hydrogen and methane. Model results indicate that microbial catalysis is generally fastest in the hottest habitable portion of the vent chimney (77–102 °C), and methane and sulfide oxidation peak near the seawater-side of the chimney. The fastest metabolisms are aerobic oxidation of H2 and sulfide and reduction of sulfate by H2 with maximum rates of 140, 900 and 800 pmol cm-3 d-1, respectively. The maximum rate of hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis is just under 0.03 pmol cm-3 d-1, the slowest of the metabolisms considered. Due to thermodynamic inhibition, there is no anaerobic oxidation of methane by sulfate (AOM). These simulations are consistent with vent chimney metabolic activity inferred from phylogenetic data reported in the literature. The model developed here provides a quantitative approach to describing the rates of biogeochemical transformations in hydrothermal systems and can be used to constrain the role of microbial activity in the deep subsurface.

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