Methane and carbon monoxide production, oxidation, and turnover times in the Caribbean Sea as influenced by the Orinoco River


  • Ronald D. Jones,

  • José A. Amador


The surface distribution of CH4, photoproduction capacity of seawater for CO, and CH4 and CO microbial oxidation rates and turnover times were determined for the surface waters of the southeastern Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Paria as affected by the Orinoco River. Measurements were made during the spring (low river flow) and the fall (high river flow) in order to determine the influence of Orinoco River discharge on these parameters. Methane concentrations were generally lower in the fall than in the spring. Low CH4 oxidation rates and similar surface distributions were observed during both seasons. Methane oxidation in the river plume was significantly higher in the fall. Potential CO photoproduction and CO oxidation rates were generally higher during the fall. Possible effects of the Orinoco River on potential CO photoproduction capacity were observed as far as Puerto Rico. Turnover times for CH4 were in the order of years, whereas CO turnover times were in the order of hours. The Orinoco River has a significant impact on the consumption of CO and CH4 and the photoproduction of CO in the southeastern Caribbean Sea, presumably resulting from inputs of riverine carbon and nutrients.