Hadal trenches are dynamic hotspots for early diagenesis in the deep sea
*Corresponding author for this work
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The deepest part of the global ocean, hadal trenches, are considered to act as depocenters for organic material. Relatively high microbial activity has been demonstrated in the deepest sections of some hadal trenches, but the deposition dynamics are thought to be spatially and temporally variable. Here, we explore sediment characteristics and in-situ benthic oxygen uptake along two trenches with contrasting surface primary productivity: the Kermadec and Atacama trenches. We find that benthic oxygen consumption varies by a factor of about 10 between hadal sites but is in all cases intensified relative to adjacent abyssal plains. The benthic oxygen uptake of the two trench regions reflects the difference in surface production, whereas variations within each trench are modulated by local deposition dynamics. Respiratory activity correlates with the sedimentary inventories of organic carbon and phytodetrital material. We argue that hadal trenches represent deep sea hotspots for early diagenesis and are more diverse and dynamic environments than previously recognized.