2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 1-12
Presentation Time: 11:45 AM


ROBERTS, Jennifer A.1, GRAY, Neil D.2, MCCANN, Clare2, CHRISTGEN, Beate2, EDWARDS, Stephen2 and GRAHAM, David W.2, (1)Geology, University of Kansas, 1475 Jayhawk Blvd, Lindley Hall, Room 120, Lawrence, KS 66047, (2)Civil Engineering and Geoscience, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, United Kingdom, jenrob@ku.edu

A large portion of the World’s terrestrial organic carbon is stored in Arctic permafrost soils and permafrost warming in these regions is leading to increasing fluxes of CH4 (methane), a potent greenhouse gas, to the atmosphere. As patterns of CH4 release from Arctic soils change there is an urgent need to better understand the basis of in situ CH4 production by methanogens and oxidation rates and patterns by methanotrophs; the main biological mechanism for CH4 consumption. To identify environmental controls on such releases, we characterized soil geochemistry and microbial community conditions in 13 near-surface Arctic soils collected across Kongsfjorden, Svalbard. Surveys of methane flux vary by five orders of magnitude across sites and do not correlate to methanotroph abundance. Instead bacterial and Type I methanotroph gene abundances co-vary with soil phosphorous (P) concentrations. Soils in this region are organic-rich and their mineral components derived from weathering of metamorphic silicates and carbonates, which contain apatite in their primary mineralogy. They are rich in clay minerals (smectite, kaolinite, and illite) and mix-valence iron oxyhydroxides derived from mica schists and variably enriched authigenic carbonates that exhibit methanogenic signatures based on 13C isotopic analyses. These soils do not contain detectable apatite nor other phosphate minerals, but instead P is sorbed to clay and iron minerals and its occurrence is pH dependent. Native methanotroph communities appear to be P-limited and respond to P addition with increases in biomass and CH4 consumption. These data, taken in their entirety, suggest that phosphorus abundance and cycling in Arctic soils critically impact biological mediation of CH4 flux by native methanotrophs and therefore, methane flux is likely to increase in these areas as thawing continues.