Microbial Ecology and Biogeochemistry of Methane Seeps and Vents
Submersible Alvin sampling sediments during the RV Atlantis expeditions to the Costa Rica margin
The lab has a long standing research program focusing on the microbial communities at methane seeps, stretching all the way back to the discovery of ANME-SRB consortia responsible for the bulk of methane oxidation in marine seep sediments. In addition to working on a more comprehensive understanding of the ANME-SRB symbiosis, the Orphan lab also takes a more holistic view on the seep ecosystem. Methane seeps and hydrothermal vents are highly dynamic systems where changes in fluid flow can profoundly affect microbial communities in sediments. In addition, these systems precipitate carbonate minerals facilitated by microbial metabolic activity, fluid mixing, or both. Such carbonates are both a record of past seep conditions, and a colonization substrate for microbial communities.