A novel authigenic magnetite source for sedimentary magnetization

Zhiyong Lin*, Xiaoming Sun, Andrew P. Roberts, Harald Strauss, Yang Lu, Xin Yang, Junli Gong, Guanhua Li, Benjamin Brunner, Jörn Peckmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


We report a novel authigenic nanoscale magnetite source in marine methane seep sediments. The magnetite occurs in large concentrations in multiple horizons in a 230 m sediment core with gas hydrate-bearing intervals. In contrast to typical biogenic magnetite produced by magnetotactic bacteria and dissimilatory iron-reducing bacteria, most particles have sizes of 200-800 nm and many are aligned in distinctive structures that resemble microbial precipitates. The magnetite is interpreted to be a byproduct of microbial iron reduction within methanic sediments with rapidly changing redox conditions. Iron sulfides that accumulated at a shallow sulfate-methane transition zone were oxidized after methane seepage intensity decreased. The alteration process produced secondary iron (oxyhydr)oxides that then became a reactive iron source for magnetite authigenesis when methane seepage increased again. This interpretation is consistent with 13C depletion in coexisting carbonate nodules. The authigenic magnetite will record younger paleomagnetic signals than surrounding sediments, which is important for pa-leomagnetic interpretations in seep systems. The microbial and possibly abiotic processes that caused these magnetic minerals to form at moderate burial depths remain to be determined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)360-365
Number of pages6
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


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