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      Characterisation of dissolved organic compounds in hydrothermal fluids by stir bar sorptive extraction - gas chomatography - mass spectrometry. Case study: the Rainbow field (36°N, Mid-Atlantic Ridge)

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          The analysis of the dissolved organic fraction of hydrothermal fluids has been considered a real challenge due to sampling difficulties, complexity of the matrix, numerous interferences and the assumed ppb concentration levels. The present study shows, in a qualitative approach, that Stir Bar Sorptive Extraction (SBSE) followed by Thermal Desorption – Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry (TD-GC-MS) is suitable for extraction of small sample volumes and detection of a wide range of volatile and semivolatile organic compounds dissolved in hydrothermal fluids. In a case study, the technique was successfully applied to fluids from the Rainbow ultramafic-hosted hydrothermal field located at 36°14’N on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR). We show that n-alkanes, mono- and poly- aromatic hydrocarbons as well as fatty acids can be easily identified and their retention times determined. Our results demonstrate the excellent repeatability of the method as well as the possibility of storing stir bars for at least three years without significant changes in the composition of the recovered organic matter. A preliminary comparative investigation of the organic composition of the Rainbow fluids showed the great potential of the method to be used for assessing intrafield variations and carrying out time series studies. All together our results demonstrate that SBSE-TD-GC-MS analyses of hydrothermal fluids will make important contributions to the understanding of geochemical processes, geomicrobiological interactions and formation of mineral deposits.

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          Most cited references 32

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          Solid phase microextraction with thermal desorption using fused silica optical fibers

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            Abiogenic hydrocarbon production at lost city hydrothermal field.

            Low-molecular-weight hydrocarbons in natural hydrothermal fluids have been attributed to abiogenic production by Fischer-Tropsch type (FTT) reactions, although clear evidence for such a process has been elusive. Here, we present concentration, and stable and radiocarbon isotope, data from hydrocarbons dissolved in hydrogen-rich fluids venting at the ultramafic-hosted Lost City Hydrothermal Field. A distinct "inverse" trend in the stable carbon and hydrogen isotopic composition of C1 to C4 hydrocarbons is compatible with FTT genesis. Radiocarbon evidence rules out seawater bicarbonate as the carbon source for FTT reactions, suggesting that a mantle-derived inorganic carbon source is leached from the host rocks. Our findings illustrate that the abiotic synthesis of hydrocarbons in nature may occur in the presence of ultramafic rocks, water, and moderate amounts of heat.
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              Geochemistry of high H2 and CH4 vent fluids issuing from ultramafic rocks at the Rainbow hydrothermal field (36°14′N, MAR)


                Author and article information

                Geochem Trans
                Geochem. Trans
                Geochemical Transactions
                BioMed Central
                7 November 2012
                : 13
                : 8
                [1 ]Laboratoire Géochimie Métallogénie, UR Géosciences Marines, Ifremer, Ctr Brest, B.P.70, 29280 Plouzané, France
                [2 ]Department of Geological Sciences, Geochemistry section, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
                Copyright ©2012 Konn et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Research Article


                ultramafic rocks, hydrothermal fluids, organic compounds, extraction, sample preparation


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