National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2021

Enhanced hydrothermal activity on an ultraslow-spreading supersegment with a seismically detected melting anomaly

Li, H., C. Tao, X. Yue, E.T. Baker, X. Deng, J. Zhou, Y. Wang, G. Zhang, J. Chen, S. Lü, and X. Su

Mar. Geol., 430, 106335, doi: 10.1016/j.margeo.2020.106335, View online (2020)

Seafloor hydrothermal venting fields occur on all ocean spreading ridges (OSRs) regardless of spreading rates. However, the distribution of seafloor hydrothermal activity such as frequency and spacing on ultraslow-spreading OSRs are poorly known. Chinese Dayang cruises from 2015 to 2016 conducted detailed water column surveys for seafloor hydrothermal activity using a towed system, with an array of turbidity sensors and a near-bottom camera, along the ultraslow-spreading Southwest Indian Ridge. Here we report the discovery of multiple hydrothermal plumes overlying segments 28, 29, and 30 between the Indomed and Gallieni fracture zones. From these data, and earlier explorations in segments 25–27, we identify nine active venting sites. The spatial density (Fs, sites/100 km) of active sites along the 394 km of ridge axis in our study area is thus 2.8, nearly 3× higher than predicted by the global trend of Fs for ultraslow OSRs in the InterRidge database. Previous studies concluded that an enhanced magma supply to the central Indomed–Gallieni supersegment 11–8 Ma is now limited to segment 27. Our results indicate that although hydrothermal activity may be most concentrated in segment 27, the discoveries of active venting in segments 25–30 implies the presence of additional magma bodies across a broad extent of the Indomed–Gallieni supersegment.

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