Emerging topics in marine methane biogeochemistry

Ann Rev Mar Sci. 2011;3:147-71. doi: 10.1146/annurev-marine-120709-142734.


Our knowledge of physical, chemical, geological and biological processes affecting methane in the ocean and in underlying sediments is expanding at a rapid pace. On first inspection, marine methane biogeochemistry appears simple: Methane distribution in sediment is set by the deposition pattern of organic material, and the balance of sources and sinks keeps its concentration low in most waters. However, recent research reveals that methane is affected by complex biogeochemical processes whose interactions are understood only at a superficial level. Such processes span the deep-subsurface, near subsurface, and ocean waters, and relate primarily to the production, consumption, and transport of methane. The purpose of this synthesis is to examine select processes within the framework of methane biogeochemistry, to formulate hypotheses on how they might operate and interact with one another, and to consider their controls.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ecosystem*
  • Euryarchaeota / metabolism
  • Geological Phenomena*
  • Methane / chemistry*
  • Methane / metabolism*
  • Oceans and Seas


  • Methane