National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1995

Hydrothermal plumes: Near and far field

Lupton, J.E.

Geophysical Monograph 91, 317–346, doi: 10.1029/GM091p0317, In Seafloor Hydrothermal Systems: Physical, Chemical, Biological, and Geological Interactions, S.E. Humphris, R. Zierenberg, L. Mullineaux, and R. Thomson (eds.), AGU, Washington, D.C. (1995)

Hydrothermal plumes are a direct result of the thermal and chemical input from submarine hot spring systems into the oceans; consequently plumes hold many clues to the characteristics of hydrothermal venting and its effect on the oceans. Plumes are an important mechanism of dispersal for the thermal and chemical fluxes introduced at seafloor hot springs. Although the details are poorly understood, it is likely that plumes are also important agents in the dispersal of the larvae of hydrothermal vent fauna and may be responsible for the enhancement of pelagic zooplankton biomass. In at least one case, it has been shown that a basin-scale hydrothermal plume traces a major deep ocean circulation cell driven by the buoyancy flux from hydrothermal venting. Finally, because they integrate the hydrothermal input, plumes are valuable tools for a variety of studies of mid-ocean ridges, such as locating active sites of hydrothermal venting, estimating thermal and chemical fluxes from hydrothermal systems, and assessing the magmatic state of the underlying ridge.

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