National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1997

Chemical plumes from low-temperature hydrothermal venting on the eastern flank of the Juan de Fuca Ridge

Wheat, C.G., M.J. Mottl, E.T. Baker, R.A. Feely, J.E. Lupton, F.J. Sansone, J.A. Resing, G.T. Lebon, and N.C. Becker

J. Geophys. Res., 102(B7), 15,433–15,446, doi: 10.1029/96JB03890 (1997)

We report evidence for chemical anomalies in the water column from low-temperature ridge-flank hydrothermal venting. During cruises in 1992 and 1994, samples were taken from the water column for trace metals, nutrients, dissolved gases, and particles near each of three basaltic outcrops overlying 3.5 m. y. old crust on the eastern flank of the Juan de Fuca Ridge in Cascadia Basin. The water column above one of these outcrops, Baby Bare, which rises about 70 m above a flat turbidite plain, was the most thoroughly sampled. Thermal, chemical (Mn, Fe, δ(3He)%, CH4, and O2), and particulate anomalies in the water column confirm the existence of (1) early diagenesis of organic matter in seafloor sediment which produces a flux of dissolved metals and nutrients to bottom seawater, (2) hydrothermal emissions which are both focused (spring-like) and diffuse, and (3) resuspension of sediment by turbulent flow of tidal currents about a topographical high. On the basis of data from the water column and thermal and chemical pore water data from 46 piston and gravity sediment cores near and on Baby Bare (FlankFlux 90 and 92), we constrain the composition of seawater in basement and thus the composition of spring-like water. Given this composition, no measurable dissolved silica or phosphate hydrothermal anomalies are expected in the water column.

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