National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2001

Hydrothermal plumes above the East Scotia Ridge: An isolated high-latitude back-arc spreading centre

German, C.R., R.A. Livermore, E.T. Baker, N.I. Bruguier, D.P. Connelly, A.P. Cunningham, P. Morris, I.P. Rouse, P.J. Statham, and P.A. Tyler

Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 184(1), 241–250, doi: 10.1016/S0012-821X(00)00319-8 (2000)

We have identified first evidence for the presence of submarine hydrothermal activity along the East Scotia Ridge, an isolated back-arc spreading center located at 55-60°S in the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean. Using a combination of in situ optical light-scattering sensor data, and total dissolvable Mn concentrations, we demonstrate the existence of hydrothermal plumes overlying two segments of this ~500 km ridge-crest; both segments exhibit anomalous topography and at least one segment is also underlain by an axial magma chamber seismic reflector. Future investigation of the fauna that inhabit these remote hydrothermal environments may provide an important "missing link" between the distinct biogeographical provinces delimited from previous investigation of northern Atlantic versus eastern Pacific vent-sites.

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