Abstract

14C dates have been obtained by accelerator mass spectrometry and by conventional techniques from hydrothermaliy derived petroleum, calcite, and vent water from the southern trough of Guaymas Basin, Gulf of California. The ages for petroleum range from 4240 to 5705 B.P., whereas those for calcite range from 7340 to 33,168 B.P. The CO2 in a sample of hydrothermal vent fluid (24% end member) yielded an apparent age of 14,820 B.P., which is within the calcite age range. These are not true ages, but rather they reflect the age of carbon within these materials. The data indicate that the conversion of sedimentary organic matter to petroleum occurs very rapidly and that the petroleum is mobilized from sedimentary organic matter in the upper 30 m of the sediment column (≤500 m thick) underlying the sea-floor deposits. The large difference in ages between the petroleum and most of the calcites indicates that the carbon source in the calcites is more complex. The inorganic carbon pool probably originates from the dissolution of older detrital carbonates and autochthonous biogenic carbonates in the shallow sediments, and/or the decarboxylation of organic matter at greater depth, with a magmatic component of dead carbon.

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