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From grains of volcanic glass to continental rifting: New Geosphere articles now online
Date:2/11/2013

ersity of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Schlossgarten 5, 91054 Erlangen, Germany. Posted online 11 Jan. 2013; now part of the Feb. 2013 issue; http://geosphere.gsapubs.org/content/9/1/96.abstract.

The presence of a large fresh water lens below the sea floor in the sediments of the New Jersey Shelf is known from early scientific drillings in the 1970s. However, the origin of this large freshwater body is still under debate. Recent groundwater flow models suggest that the water originates mainly from molten ice that entered the ground below large continental ice sheets during the last ice age. In this case, the potential resource of fresh water a few miles off the coast of New Jersey would be a non-renewable resource. In contrast to that, analyses of the pore waters that were sampled during the 2009 drilling expedition of the International Ocean Drilling Program (IODP Exp. 313) revealed the following sources of fluids beneath the shelf: (1) modern rainwater from onshore New Jersey, (2) modern seawater, and (3) a brine that ascends from deep sediments. This rules out the ice age origin theory. To investigate, Robert van Geldern and colleagues used the chemical composition of pore water and a naturally occurring label within the water molecule (H2O) -- the so-called "stable isotope composition" of the elements oxygen (O) and hydrogen (H). This ratio can be used to identify the origin and mixing of water masses. Further geochemical investigations of the sediment also revealed the existence of active methane formation in depths below 350 meters below the seafloor. Under today's sea level, this major greenhouse gas is not released from the sediment into the ocean or the atmosphere. The methane is oxidized in the sediment column to carbon dioxide that in turn is mostly trapped in the pore waters as dissolved inorganic carbon. This situation, however, could have been completely different durin
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Contact: Kea Giles
kgiles@geosociety.org
Geological Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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