Geochemical observations in marine sediment have recently shown that electric currents may intimately couple spatially separated biogeochemical processes like oxygen reduction at the sediment surface and hydrogen sul-phide oxidation in anoxic layers centimeters below 1. Further experimental studies suggest that the electron conductance is mediated by microorgan-isms. The spatial separation of electron and proton donors and acceptors has major impacts on element cycling by redox processes, pH balances, mineral dissolution/precipitations, and electromigration of ions. The sepa-ration of redox processes leads to formation of electrical fields, which modifies ion transport. The local proton producing and proton consuming half reactions induces pH extremes that accelerate dissolution of iron sul-phides and calcium carbonates in anoxic layers and promotes the formation of Mg-calcite and iron oxides in the oxic zone. Oxygen seems to be the major electron acceptor in the coupled system, and more than 40% of the oxygen consumption can be driven by long distance electron transmission. The major e-donor is sulfide, which is oxidized to sulfate, and iron sulphides are the major sources for sulfide in the system. Long distance electron transmission may flourishes in marine sediments exposed to tran-sient oxygen depletion, leaving distinct signatures of such events in the geological record.
Main Research Area:
Electron transfer at the microbe-mineral interface, 2012