Posts Tagged 'vents'

Submarine groundwater and vent discharge in a volcanic area associated with coastal acidification

We investigated submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) in a volcanic coastal area that hosts the world’s most biodiverse reefs. Measurements of 222Rn activity in coastal seawater, a tracer for groundwater, indicated prevalent SGD. In areas where seawater 222Rn activity was generally higher, we discovered hydrothermal springs emitting acidic waters (pH~5.4‐6.0) and venting magmatic CO2 which brought local pCO2 levels up to 95,000 ppm. The collection of vents raised CO2 and lowered pH over 1‐2 km of coastline. The hydrogen and oxygen isotope composition of water and chloride concentration revealed that the springs discharge recirculated seawater mixed variably with terrestrial groundwater. Shallower springs and porewater have a higher proportion of terrestrial groundwater than deeper springs, which emit mostly recirculated seawater. This suggests that different SGD mechanisms are present. The SGD could be contributing to the evolution and function of the biodiverse ecosystem but it also represents myriad pathways for contamination.

Continue reading ‘Submarine groundwater and vent discharge in a volcanic area associated with coastal acidification’

Ocean acidification affects biological activities of seaweeds: a case study of Sargassum vulgare from Ischia volcanic CO2 vents


  • Bioactivities of S. vulgare from Ischia CO2 vents and nearby control site were analysed.
  • Elevated DIC increases polysaccharide content in the algae at CO2 vents.
  • Algal extract from acidified population showed higher antimicrobial, and antiprotozoal activity.
  • Acidified population showed pronounced antimutagenic potential and anticancer activities.


We utilized volcanic CO2 vents at Castello Aragonese off Ischia Island as a natural laboratory to investigate the effect of lowered pH/elevated CO2 on the bioactivities of extracts from fleshy brown algae Sargassum vulgare C. Agardh. We analysed the carbohydrate levels, antioxidant capacity, antibacterial, antifungal, antiprotozoal, anticancer properties and antimutagenic potential of the algae growing at the acidified site (pH ∼ 6.7) and those of algae growing at the nearby control site Lacco Ameno (pH∼8.1). The results of the present study show that the levels of polysaccharides fucoidan and alginate were higher in the algal population at acidified site. In general, extracts for the algal population from the acidified site showed a higher antioxidant capacity, antilipidperoxidation, antibacterial, antifungal, antiprotozoal, anticancer activities and antimutagenic potential compared to the control population. The increased bioactivity in acidified population could be due to elevated levels of bioactive compounds of algae and/or associated microbial communities. In this snapshot study, we performed bioactivity assays but did not characterize the chemistry and source of presumptive bioactive compounds. Nevertheless, the observed improvement in the medicinal properties of S. vulgare in the acidified oceans provides a promising basis for future marine drug discovery.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification affects biological activities of seaweeds: a case study of Sargassum vulgare from Ischia volcanic CO2 vents’

Diatoms dominate and alter marine food-webs when CO2 rises

Diatoms are so important in ocean food-webs that any human induced changes in their abundance could have major effects on the ecology of our seas. The large chain-forming diatom Biddulphia biddulphiana greatly increases in abundance as pCO2 increases along natural seawater CO2 gradients in the north Pacific Ocean. In areas with reference levels of pCO2, it was hard to find, but as seawater carbon dioxide levels rose, it replaced seaweeds and became the main habitat-forming species on the seabed. This diatom algal turf supported a marine invertebrate community that was much less diverse and completely differed from the benthic communities found at present-day levels of pCO2. Seawater CO2 enrichment stimulated the growth and photosynthetic efficiency of benthic diatoms, but reduced the abundance of calcified grazers such as gastropods and sea urchins. These observations suggest that ocean acidification will shift photic zone community composition so that coastal food-web structure and ecosystem function are homogenised, simplified, and more strongly affected by seasonal algal blooms.

Continue reading ‘Diatoms dominate and alter marine food-webs when CO2 rises’

Linking internal carbonate chemistry regulation and calcification in corals growing at a Mediterranean CO2 vent

Corals exert a strong biological control over their calcification processes, but there is a lack of knowledge on their capability of long-term acclimatization to ocean acidification (OA). We used a dual geochemical proxy approach to estimate the calcifying fluid pH (pHcf) and carbonate chemistry of a Mediterranean coral (Balanophyllia europaea) naturally growing along a pH gradient (range: pHTS 8.07–7.74). The pHcf derived from skeletal boron isotopic composition (δ11B) was 0.3–0.6 units above seawater values and homogeneous along the gradient (mean ± SEM: Site 1 = 8.39 ± 0.03, Site 2 = 8.34 ± 0.03, Site 3 = 8.34 ± 0.02). Also carbonate ion concentration derived from B/Ca was homogeneous [mean ± SEM (μmol kg–1): Site 1 = 579 ± 34, Site 2 = 541 ± 27, Site 3 = 568 ± 30] regardless of seawater pH. Furthermore, gross calcification rate (GCR, mass of CaCO3 deposited on the skeletal unit area per unit of time), estimated by a “bio-inorganic model” (IpHRAC), was homogeneous with decreasing pH. The homogeneous GCR, internal pH and carbonate chemistry confirm that the features of the “building blocks” – the fundamental structural components – produced by the biomineralization process were substantially unaffected by increased acidification. Furthermore, the pH up-regulation observed in this study could potentially explain the previous hypothesis that less “building blocks” are produced with increasing acidification ultimately leading to increased skeletal porosity and to reduced net calcification rate computed by including the total volume of the pore space. In fact, assuming that the available energy at the three sites is the same, this energy at the low pH sites could be partitioned among fewer calicoblastic cells that consume more energy given the larger difference between external and internal pH compared to the control, leading to the production of less building blocks (i.e., formation of pores inside the skeleton structure, determining increased porosity). However, we cannot exclude that also dissolution may play a role in increasing porosity. Thus, the ability of scleractinian corals to maintain elevated pHcf relative to ambient seawater might not always be sufficient to counteract declines in net calcification under OA scenarios.

Continue reading ‘Linking internal carbonate chemistry regulation and calcification in corals growing at a Mediterranean CO2 vent’

Fish assemblages cope with ocean acidification in a shallow volcanic CO2 vent benefiting from an adjacent recovery area


• pH played a role in shaping nekto-benthic fish assemblages.

• Fish diversity did not show unique spatial patterns or significant pH-relations.

• Species richness and abundance correlated with seagrass canopy, regardless of pH.

• Unexpected among-site similarity was found in the abundance of juveniles.

• The area close to low pH site seems to work as a recovery area for fish.


Shallow CO2 vents are used to test ecological hypotheses about the effects of ocean acidification (OA). Here, we studied fish assemblages associated with Cymodocea nodosa meadows exposed to high pCO2/low pH conditions at a natural CO2 vent in the Mediterranean Sea. Using underwater visual census, we assessed fish community structure and biodiversity in a low pH site (close to the CO2 vent), a close control site and a far control site, hypothesising a decline in biodiversity and a homogenization of fish assemblages under OA conditions. Our findings revealed that fish diversity did not show a unique spatial pattern, or even significant relationships with pH, but correlated with seagrass leaf canopy. Among-site similarity was found in the abundance of juveniles, contrary to the expected impacts of OA on early life stages. However, pH seems an important driver in structuring fish assemblage in the low pH site, despite its high similarity with the close control site. This unexpected pattern may represent a combined response of fish mobility, enhanced food resources in the acidified site, and a ‘recovery area’ effect of the adjacent control site.

Continue reading ‘Fish assemblages cope with ocean acidification in a shallow volcanic CO2 vent benefiting from an adjacent recovery area’

Impacts of ocean acidification on hermit crab communities through contrasting responses of Pagurus filholi (de Man, 1887) and Clibanarius virescens (Krauss, 1843)

Ocean acidification (OA) is predicted to decrease the abundance of calcified organisms such as gastropods. Since hermit crabs utilize gastropod shell as mobile shelter, OA has indirect impacts on hermit crab population. To examine the impacts of OA on hermit crab communities, which use calcified shell as the mobile shelter, we conducted field surveys and laboratory experiments using volcanic CO2 seeps in Shikine Island, Japan. By comparing hermit crab community structures and shell availability among five intertidal rocky shores with different degrees of acidification, Paguroidea abundance and species richness were simplified in acidified areas. Rearing experiments comparing survival rates of two Paguroidea species, Pagurus filholi (de Man, 1887) and Clibanarius virescens (Krauss, 1843), at both adult and larval stages, between acidified and ambient aquaria revealed that acidified seawater reduced larval survival rate of C. virescens. Overall, the results indicated that the species-specific direct effect in elevated C. virescens larval mortality could simplify the Paguroidea species composition. In addition, such direct effect would also lead to reduction of Paguroidea abundance, along with indirect effects though a decrease in shell availability.

Continue reading ‘Impacts of ocean acidification on hermit crab communities through contrasting responses of Pagurus filholi (de Man, 1887) and Clibanarius virescens (Krauss, 1843)’

Elevated trace elements in sediments and seagrasses at CO2 seeps

• Sandy CO2 seep sediments had higher concentration of trace elements.

• Metals can be more toxic in areas affected by CO2 acidification, with adverse effects on the sediment associated biota.

• Seagrasses element accumulation at CO2 seeps was highest in the roots.

Seagrasses often occur around shallow marine CO2 seeps, allowing assessment of trace metal accumulation. Here, we measured Cd, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb and Zn levels at six CO2 seeps and six reference sites in the Mediterranean. Some seep sediments had elevated metal concentrations; an extreme example was Cd which was 43x more concentrated at a seep than its reference. Three seeps had metal levels that were predicted to adversely affect marine biota, namely Vulcano (for Hg), Ischia (for Cu) and Paleochori (for Cd and Ni). There were higher-than-sediment levels of Zn and Ni in Posidonia oceanica and of Zn in Cymodocea nodosa, particularly in roots. High levels of Cu were found in Ischia seep sediments, yet seagrass was abundant, and the plants contained low levels of Cu. Differences in bioavailability and toxicity of trace elements helps explain why seagrasses can be abundant at some CO2 seeps but not others.

Continue reading ‘Elevated trace elements in sediments and seagrasses at CO2 seeps’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book