Abstract

Authigenic carbonates are intercalated with massive gas hydrates in sediments of the Cascadia margin. The deposits were recovered from the uppermost 50 cm of sediments on the southern summit of the Hydrate Ridge during the RV Sonne cruise SO110. Two carbonate lithologies that differ in chemistry, mineralogy, and fabric make up these deposits. Microcrystalline high-magnesium calcite (14 to 19 mol% MgCO3) and aragonite are present in both semiconsolidated sediments and carbonate-cemented clasts. Aragonite occurs also as a pure phase without sediment impurities. It is formed by precipitation in cavities as botryoidal and isopachous aggregates within pure white, massive gas hydrate. Variations in oxygen isotope values of the carbonates reflect the mineralogical composition and define two end members: a Mg-calcite with δ18O =4.86‰ PDB and an aragonite with δ18O =3.68‰ PDB. On the basis of the ambient bottom-water temperature and accepted equations for oxygen isotope fractionation, we show that the aragonite phase formed in equilibrium with its pore-water environment, and that the Mg-calcite appears to have precipitated from pore fluids enriched in 18O. Oxygen isotope enrichment probably originates from hydrate water released during gas-hydrate destabilization.

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