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See detailMineralogical gradients associated with alvinellids at deep-sea hydrothermal vents
Zbinden, M.; Le Bris, N.; Compère, Philippe ULg et al

in Deep-Sea Research Part I-Oceanographic Research Papers (2003), 50(2), 269-280

Alvinella pompejana and Alvinella caudata live in organic tubes on active sulphide chimney walls at deep-sea hydrothermal vents. These polychaete annelids are exposed to extreme thermal and chemical ... [more ▼]

Alvinella pompejana and Alvinella caudata live in organic tubes on active sulphide chimney walls at deep-sea hydrothermal vents. These polychaete annelids are exposed to extreme thermal and chemical gradients and to intense mineral precipitation. This work points out that mineral particles associated with Pompeii worm (A. pompejana and A. caudata) tubes constitute useful markers for evaluating the chemical characteristics of their micro-environment. The minerals associated with these worm tubes were analysed on samples recovered from an experimental alvinellid colony, at different locations in the vent fluid-seawater interface. Inhabited tubes from the most upper and lower parts of the colony were analysed by light and electron microscopies, X-ray microanalysis and X-ray diffraction. A change was observed from a Fe-Zn-S mineral assemblage to a Zn-S assemblage at the millimeter scale from the outer to the inner face of a tube. A similar gradient in proportions of minerals was observed at a decimeter scale from the lower to the upper part of the colony. The marcasitc/pyrite ratio of iron disulphides also displays a steep decrease along the few millimeters adjacent to the external tube surface. The occurrence of these gradients indicates that the microenvironment within the tube differs from that outside the tube, and suggests that the tube wall acts as an efficient barrier to the external environment. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. [less ▲]

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