EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Carbon isotopes of vegetation as proxy of natural or anthropogenic gas seeps

Wolfram Kloppmann, Frédérick Gal, Michaela Blessing, and Christine Fléhoc
Wolfram Kloppmann et al.
  • BRGM, DEPA/ISO, Orléans, France (

There is evidence that the emission of 14C –free CO2 during volcanic emissions creates a bias for radiocarbon dating of volcanic events (Holdaway et al., 2018), showing that integration of “dead” carbon by vegetation can serve as indicator of geogenic gas emissions. We tested 14C activities and stable carbon isotope ratios of tree rings and herbal vegetation in the proximity of a natural gas seep in the French Subalpine chains where both methane (<90% in the main vent) and CO2 (<11%) are present (Gal et al., 2018). Wood samples were taken from two alder trees, at different distances and directions from the main gas vent. Grass leaves and roots (Carex sp.) were analysed for two spots with contrasting soil methane concentrations and fluxes within the zone of diffuse gas emanation around the main vent (Gal et al., 2019). Grass and wood samples show contrasting isotope compositions depending on their species, age, and position with respect to the gas seep, some with 14C activities significantly lower than present day values. This offers perspectives of using vegetation carbon isotopes as proxies for present and past gas emanations, including man-induced gas leaks, e.g. from gas storage or natural gas exploitation facilities.

This research was co-funded by the EU H2020 Programme (grant 764531 – SECURe “Subsurface Evaluation of Carbon Capture and Storage and Unconventional Risk”)

Gal F., Kloppmann W., Proust E., Humez P. (2018) Gas concentration and flow rate measurements as part of methane baseline assessment: Case of the Fontaine Ardente gas seep, Isère, France. Applied Geochemistry, 95, 158-171.

Gal F., Proust E., Kloppmann W. (2019) Towards a Better Knowledge of Natural Methane Releases in the French Alps: A Field Approach. Geofluids, 2019, 1-16.

Holdaway R. N., Duffy B., Kennedy B. (2018) Evidence for magmatic carbon bias in 14C dating of the Taupo and other major eruptions. Nature Communications, 9, 4110.

How to cite: Kloppmann, W., Gal, F., Blessing, M., and Fléhoc, C.: Carbon isotopes of vegetation as proxy of natural or anthropogenic gas seeps, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2655,, 2021.