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Open AccessArticle

Unique Authigenic Mineral Assemblages and Planktonic Foraminifera Reveal Dynamic Cold Seepage in the Southern South China Sea

by Yang Zhou 1, Pengfei Di 2,3,4,5,*, Niu Li 2,3,4,5, Fang Chen 1, Xin Su 6 and Jinpeng Zhang 1
1
MNR Key Laboratory of Marine Mineral Resources, Guangzhou Marine Geological Survey, Ministry of Natural Resources, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510075, China
2
Key Laboratory of Ocean and Marginal Sea Geology, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510301, China
3
Laboratory for Marine Mineral Resources, Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, Qingdao 266061, China
4
Innovation Academy of South China Sea Ecology and Environmental Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510301, China
5
Southern Marine Science and Engineering Guangdong Laboratory (Guangzhou), Guangzhou 511481, China
6
School of Ocean Sciences, China University of Geosciences, Beijing 100083, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Minerals 2020, 10(3), 275; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10030275
Received: 2 February 2020 / Revised: 12 March 2020 / Accepted: 14 March 2020 / Published: 19 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Mineral Deposits)
Many cold seeps and gas hydrate areas have not been discovered beside the Beikan basin in the southern South China Sea (SCS), and their characteristics and histories also remain poorly known. Here we describe authigenic minerals and the carbon and oxygen isotopic composition of planktonic foraminifera Globigerinoides ruber from sediment core 2PC, recovered from the gas hydrate zone of the Nansha Trough, southern SCS, to elucidate its history of dynamic cold seepage. We infer that the occurrence of authigenic gypsum crystals and pyrite concretions, and anomalously negative δ13C values of Globigerinoides ruber, reflect paleo-methane seepage. Two major methane release events were identified, based on remarkable excursions in foraminifera δ13C at depths of 150–250 cm and 350–370 cm. Euhedral gypsum crystals and tubular pyrite concretions co-occur with extremely negative planktonic foraminifera δ13C values, indicating a shift in the sulfate methane transition zone and a change in the methane flux. Our data suggest that authigenic mineral assemblages and δ13C values of planktonic foraminifera provide a valuable tool in elucidating the characteristics of dynamic methane seepage in a marine environment. View Full-Text
Keywords: authigenic gypsum; authigenic pyrite; cold seep; planktonic foraminifera; southern South China Sea authigenic gypsum; authigenic pyrite; cold seep; planktonic foraminifera; southern South China Sea
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Zhou, Y.; Di, P.; Li, N.; Chen, F.; Su, X.; Zhang, J. Unique Authigenic Mineral Assemblages and Planktonic Foraminifera Reveal Dynamic Cold Seepage in the Southern South China Sea. Minerals 2020, 10, 275.

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