Methane oxidation in Saanich inlet during summer stratification

Bettie Ward, K. A. Kilpatrick, A. E. Wopat, E. C. Minnich, M. E. Lidstrom

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Saanich Inlet, British Columbia, a fjord on the southeast coast of Vancouver Island, typically stratifies in summer, leading to the formation of an oxic-anoxic interface in the water column and accumulation of methane in the deep water. We present the results of methane concentration measurements in the water column of the inlet at various times throughout the summer months in 1983. Methane gradients and calculated diffusive fluxes across the oxic-anoxic interface increased as the summer progressed. Methane distribution and consumption in Saanich Inlet were studied in more detail during August 1986. At this time, a typical summer stratification with an oxic-anoxic interface around 140 m was present. At the interface, steep gradients in nutrient concentrations, bacterial abundance and methane concentration were observed. Methane oxidation was detected in the aerobic surface waters and in the anaerobic deep layer, but highest rates occurred in a narrow layer at the oxic-anoxic interface. Estimated methane oxidation rates were sufficient to consume 100% of the methane provided by diffusive flux from the anoxic layer. Methane oxidation is thus a mechanism whereby atmospheric flux from anoxic waters is minimized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-75
Number of pages11
JournalContinental Shelf Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1989

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Geology


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