National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1987

Characteristics of hydrothermal plumes from two vent fields on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, northeast Pacific Ocean

Baker, E.T., and G.J. Massoth

Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 85, 59–73, doi: 10.1016/0012-821X(87)90021-5 (1987)

Deep CTD/transmissometer tows and water bottle sampling were used during 1985 to map the regional distribution of the neutrally-buoyant plumes emanating from each of two major vent fields on the Southern Symmetrical Segment (SSS) and Endeavour Segment (ES) of the Juan de Fuca Ridge. At both vent fields, emissions from point and diffuse hydrothermal sources coalesced into a single 200-m-thick plume elongated in the direction of current flow and with characteristic temperature anomalies of 0.02–0.05°C and light-attenuation anomalies of 0.01–0.08 m (10–80 µg/l above background). Temperature anomalies in the core of each plume were uniform as far downcurrent as the plumes were mapped (10–15 km). Downcurrent light-attenuation trends were non-uniform and differed between plumes, apparently because different vent fluid chemistries at each field cause significant differences in the settling characteristics of the hydrothermal precipitates. Vent fluids from the SSS are metal-dominated and mostly precipitate very fine-grained hydrous Fe-oxides that remain suspended in the plume. Vent fluids from the ES are sulfur-dominated and precipitate a high proportion of coarser-grained Fe-sulfides that rapidly settle from the plume. The integrated flux of each vent field was estimated from measurements of the advective transport of each plume. Heat flux was 1700 ± 1100 MW from the ES and 580 ± 351 MW from the SSS. Particle flux varied from 546 ± 312 g/s to 204 ± 116 g/s at the ES depending on distance from the vent field, and was 92 ± 48 g/s from the SSS.

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