Authors: Berberich, Gabriele M.
Ellison, Aaron M.
Berberich, Martin B.
Grumpe, Arne
Becker, Adrian
Wöhler, Christian
Title: Can a red wood-ant nest be associated with fault-related CH4 micro-seepage?
Other Titles: A case study from continuous short-term in-situ sampling
Language (ISO): en
Abstract: We measured methane (CH4) and stable carbon isotope of methane (δ13C-CH4) concentrations in ambient air and within a red wood-ant (RWA; Formica polyctena) nest in the Neuwied Basin (Germany) using high-resolution in-situ sampling to detect microbial, thermogenic, and abiotic fault-related micro-seepage of CH4. Methane degassing from RWA nests was not synchronized with earth tides, nor was it influenced by micro-earthquake degassing or concomitantly measured RWA activity. Two δ13C-CH4 signatures were identified in nest gas: −69‰ and −37‰. The lower peak was attributed to microbial decomposition of organic matter within the RWA nest, in line with previous observations that RWA nests are hot-spots of microbial CH4. The higher peak has not been reported in previous studies. We attribute this peak to fault-related CH4 emissions moving via fault networks into the RWA nest, which could originate either from thermogenic or abiotic CH4 formation. Sources of these micro-seepages could be Devonian schists, iron-bearing “Klerf Schichten”, or overlapping micro-seepage of magmatic CH4 from the Eifel plume. Given the abundance of RWA nests on the landscape, their role as sources of microbial CH4 and biological indicators for abiotically-derived CH4 should be included in estimation of methane emissions that are contributing to climatic change.
Subject Headings: Red wood ants
Formica polyctena
CH4; δ 13C-CH4
Activity pattern
Issue Date: 2018-03-28
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