It is uncertain how, and to what extent, methane release from gas hydrates affects life on the seabed. We will study benthic organisms, communities, and food webs to understand the range of biological responses to varying intensities of natural hydrocarbons seeping from marine sediments in the Svalbard/Barents Sea area over different time periods and spatial scales.

SeabedWe will make direct observations of the fauna at seafloor methane release sites and gather sediment samples to monitor physical parameters and sediment geochemistry. This will be reinforced with quantitative assessments of bacteria and macro fauna in order to determine species composition and community structure along a gradient of methane intensity. We will use stable isotopic analyses to determine food web structure and to what extent methane is utilized as an energy source in the marine ecosystem. We also develop and test benthic biological monitoring technologies, such as sclerochronology (the analysis of mollusk shell rings), as indicators of biological responses to different types of hydrocarbon leakage.

This technology development activity aims at providing a well-constrained understanding of the range of biological responses and associated effects over multiple temporal and spatial scales to varying intensities of natural hydrocarbon leakages from marine sediments.

About the research area leader

JoLynn Carroll is a marine geochemist whose research interests combine the fields of marine geochemistry, benthic biology, and environmental pollution. She is an adjunct professor at the Department of Geology, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, and assistant director at Akvaplan-niva, a research-based company providing advisory services and research in aquaculture and marine and freshwater environments. Her research contributions are documented in over 60 peer-reviewed publications, including two books.

JoLynn holds a PhD in marine science from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, USA, and has also studied innovation leadership at the Norwegian Business School.

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