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Niemann, H, Linke P, Knittel K, Macpherson E, Boetius A, Bruckmann W, Larvik G, Wallmann K, Schacht U, Omoregie E, Hilton D, Brown K, Rehder G.  2013.  Methane-carbon flow into the benthic food web at cold seeps - a case study from the Costa Rica Subduction Zone. Plos One. 8   10.1371/journal.pone.0074894   AbstractWebsite

Cold seep ecosystems can support enormous biomasses of free-living and symbiotic chemoautotrophic organisms that get their energy from the oxidation of methane or sulfide. Most of this biomass derives from animals that are associated with bacterial symbionts, which are able to metabolize the chemical resources provided by the seeping fluids. Often these systems also harbor dense accumulations of non-symbiotic megafauna, which can be relevant in exporting chemosynthetically fixed carbon from seeps to the surrounding deep sea. Here we investigated the carbon sources of lithodid crabs (Paralomis sp.) feeding on thiotrophic bacterial mats at an active mud volcano at the Costa Rica subduction zone. To evaluate the dietary carbon source of the crabs, we compared the microbial community in stomach contents with surface sediments covered by microbial mats. The stomach content analyses revealed a dominance of epsilonproteobacterial 16S rRNA gene sequences related to the free-living and epibiotic sulfur oxidiser Sulfurovum sp. We also found Sulfurovum sp. as well as members of the genera Arcobacter and Sulfurimonas in mat-covered surface sediments where Epsilonproteobacteria were highly abundant constituting 10% of total cells. Furthermore, we detected substantial amounts of bacterial fatty acids such as i-C15:0 and C17:1 omega 6c with stable carbon isotope compositions as low as -53 parts per thousand in the stomach and muscle tissue. These results indicate that the white microbial mats at Mound 12 are comprised of Epsilonproteobacteria and that microbial mat-derived carbon provides an important contribution to the crab's nutrition. In addition, our lipid analyses also suggest that the crabs feed on other C-13-depleted organic matter sources, possibly symbiotic megafauna as well as on photosynthetic carbon sources such as sedimentary detritus.

Brown, KM, Tryon MD, DeShon HR, Dorman LM, Schwartz SY.  2005.  Correlated transient fluid pulsing and seismic tremor in the Costa Rica subduction zone. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 238:189-203.   10.1016/j.epsl.2005.06.055   AbstractWebsite

Continuous measurements of fluid flow were made over a six month period across the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica (Pacific), convergent margin utilizing osmotically-driven fluid flow meters designed to quantify both inflow and outflow rates on the order of similar to 10(-5) to 3 cm/d. Significant transience in flow was observed through the surface of the forearc. Three periods of correlated flow signals were seen on the subduction forearc among three instruments located in the out-of-sequence thrust (OOST) zone over along-margin strike distances of similar to 30 km. Amplitudes of ground velocity recorded on collocated ocean bottom seismometers (OBS) increase during the three correlated flow events. The seismic signal has frequency characteristics that resemble volcanic and non-volcanic tremor. We hypothesize that repeated plate boundary slow slip events, potentially originating at the up dip limit of the seismogenic zone, generate the observed signals within the toe of the forearc. We propose a model in which the poro-elastic stress/strain field around a series of creep dislocations simultaneously forces flow through fracture networks in the forearc and oceanic basement rocks and induces diffuse flow through the shallow sediments. The former generates the seismic tremor-like noise recorded by the OBSs and the latter generates the flow transients recorded by the fluid flow meters. We suggest that high sensitivity fluid flow meters can be utilized to detect transient tectonic strain events in offshore environments where traditional geodetic techniques lack resolution or are not possible. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.