National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2006

Detection of an unusually large hydrothermal event plume above the slow-spreading Carlsberg Ridge: NW Indian Ocean

Murton, B.J., E.T. Baker, C.M. Sands, and C.R. German

Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L10608, doi: 10.1029/2006GL026048 (2006)

About 90% of Earth's volcanism occurs along the global mid-ocean ridge system. Here, sporadic volcanic and tectonic activity is thought to cause cataclysmic release of hydrothermal fluids, forming event plumes. Each plume often contains as much hydrothermal effluent and heat as chronic hydrothermal venting from a typical vent site discharges during a year. To date, only a few event plumes have been detected, and only above intermediate-rate spreading ridges in the Pacific. Here, we report the first evidence for an unusually large event plume that originated from the slow-spreading (3 cm/yr full-rate) Carlsberg Ridge in the NW Indian Ocean. At 70 km long, up to 4540 km3 in volume and with up to 24 × 1016 J of excess heat, this event plume was substantially larger than previous ones and demonstrates that dispersion of hydrothermal heat and biological products from slow spreading ridges may be more significant and effective than hitherto imagined.

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