Effects of Direct Ocean CO2 Injection on Deep-Sea Meiofauna

James P. Barry, Kurt R. Buck, Chris F. Lovera, Linda Kuhnz, Patrick J. Whaling,
Edward. T. Peltzer, Peter Walz, Peter G. Brewer

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, 7700 Sandholdt Road, Moss Landing, CA 95039

Journal of Oceanography (2004) 60(4): 759-766.

Received: 2003 October 23.
Revised: 2004 April 23.
Accepted: 2004 April 24.


Purposeful deep-sea carbon dioxide sequestration by direct injection of liquid CO2 into the deep waters of the ocean has the potential to mitigate the rapid rise in atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases. One issue of concern for this carbon sequestration option is the impact of changes in seawater chemistry caused by CO2 injection on deep-sea ecosystems. The effects of deep-sea carbon dioxide injection on infaunal deep-sea organisms were evaluated during a field experiment at 3600 m depth off California, in which liquid CO2 was released on the seafloor. Exposure to the dissolution plume emanating from the liquid CO2 resulted in high rates of mortality for flagellates, amoebae, and nematodes inhabiting sediments in close proximity to sites of CO2 release. Results from this study indicate that large changes in seawater chemistry (i.e. pH reductions of ~0.5-1.0 pH units) near CO2 release sites will cause high mortality rates for nearby infaunal deep-sea communities.

© 2004 by The Oceanographic Society of Japan.


This research was supported by MBARI (projects 200001, 200002) the U.S. Dept. of Energy, Fossil Energy Group (DE-FC26-00NT40929), and the U.S. Dept. of Energy, Ocean Carbon Sequestration Program, Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (DE-FG03-01ER63065). Deep-sea experiments would not have been possible without the excellent support of the crews of the R/V Western Flyer and ROV Tiburon.

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