National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1994

In situ observations of dissolved iron and manganese in hydrothermal vent plumes, Juan de Fuca Ridge

Chin, C.S., K.H. Coale, V.A. Elrod, K.S. Johnson, G.J. Massoth, and E.T. Baker

J. Geophys. Res., 99(B3), 4969–4984, doi: 10.1029/93JB02036 (1994)

In situ measurements of dissolved manganese and total dissolved iron were conducted in hydrothermal plumes over the Juan de Fuca Ridge using a submersible chemical analyzer (Scanner). The Scanner was deployed as part of a CTD/transmissometer/rosette instrument package on both tow-yos and vertical casts during the VENTS Leg I cruise in 1989. Dissolved manganese and total dissolved iron concentrations, along with temperature and light attenuation anomalies, were determined over the ridge crest every 5 s. Discrete samples for laboratory analyses of dissolved iron II, total dissolved iron II+III and manganese were also collected. Metal to heat ratios (Me:Q) measured in situ were extremely variable in one steady state plume, while an event plume had constant Me:Q. Uniform values of Mn:Q in the event plume demonstrate that Mn behaves conservatively in the near-field plume. Variability in the Mn:Q ratios in a steady state plume indicated the presence of at least two hydrothermal sources with distinct Me:Q values. A simple mixing model shows that the contribution of Mn from high Me:Q sources, with a composition characteristic of black smoker vents, varies between 1% and 99% within the core of the steady state plume with an average value of 55%. On average, over 50% of the excess heat within the plume originates from low Me:Q ratio sources, with a composition characteristic of low- temperature, diffuse flow vent fluids. Less than 4% of the volume of hydrothermal fluids in the plume originates from black smokers. The Fe II concentrations were used to provide an estimate of plume age on a transect across the ridge axis. Plume ages were about 2.5 days on axis and >12 days off axis. These plume ages were modeled to provide estimates of plume transport and horizontal diffusion and show excellent agreement with ages determined using 222Rn.

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