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The deep structure of a sea-floor hydrothermal deposit

Zierenberg, Robert A.; Fouquet, Yves; Miller, D.J.; Bahr, J.M.; Baker, P.A.; Bjerkgård, T.; Brunner, C.A.; Duckworth, R.C.; Gable, R.; Gieskes, J.; Goodfellow, W.D.; Gröschel-Becker, H.M.; Guèrin, G.; Ishibashi, J.; Iturrino, G.; James, R.H.; Lackschewitz, K.S.; Marquez, L.L.; Nehlig, P.; Peter, J.M.; Rigsby, C.A.; Schultheiss, P.; Shanks, W.C.; Simoneit, B.R.T.; Summit, M.; Teagle, D.A.H.; Urbat, M.; Zuffa, G.G.. 1998 The deep structure of a sea-floor hydrothermal deposit. Nature, 392 (6675). 485-488. 10.1038/33126

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Abstract/Summary

Hydrothermal circulation at the crests of mid-ocean ridges plays an important role in transferring heat from the interior of the Earth1, 2, 3. A consequence of this hydrothermal circulation is the formation of metallic ore bodies known as volcanic-associated massive sulphide deposits. Such deposits, preserved on land, were important sources of copper for ancient civilizations and continue to provide a significant source of base metals (for example, copper and zinc)4, 5, 6. Here we present results from Ocean Drilling Program Leg 169, which drilled through a massive sulphide deposit on the northern Juan de Fuca spreading centre and penetrated the hydrothermal feeder zone through which the metal-rich fluids reached the sea floor. We found that the style of feeder-zone mineralization changes with depth in response to changes in the pore pressure of the hydrothermal fluids and discovered a stratified zone of high-grade copper-rich replacement mineralization below the massive sulphide deposit. This copper-rich zone represents a type of mineralization not previously observed below sea-floor deposits, and may provide new targets for land-based mineral exploration.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1038/33126
ISSN: 00280836
Date made live: 07 Feb 2012 10:23 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/310219

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