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Geochemical and Visual Indicators of Hydrothermal Fluid Flow through a Sediment-Hosted Volcanic Ridge in the Central Bransfield Basin (Antarctica)

Aquilina, Alfred; Connelly, Douglas P.; Copley, Jon T.; Green, Darryl R.H.; Hawkes, Jeffrey A.; Hepburn, Laura E.; Huvenne, Veerle A.I.; Marsh, Leigh; Mills, Rachel A.; Tyler, Paul A.. 2013 Geochemical and Visual Indicators of Hydrothermal Fluid Flow through a Sediment-Hosted Volcanic Ridge in the Central Bransfield Basin (Antarctica). PLoS ONE, 8 (1). e54686. 10.1371/journal.pone.0054686

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Abstract/Summary

In the austral summer of 2011 we undertook an investigation of three volcanic highs in the Central Bransfield Basin, Antarctica, in search of hydrothermal activity and associated fauna to assess changes since previous surveys and to evaluate the extent of hydrothermalism in this basin. At Hook Ridge, a submarine volcanic edifice at the eastern end of the basin, anomalies in water column redox potential (Eh) were detected close to the seafloor, unaccompanied by temperature or turbidity anomalies, indicating low-temperature hydrothermal discharge. Seepage was manifested as shimmering water emanating from the sediment and from mineralised structures on the seafloor; recognisable vent endemic fauna were not observed. Pore fluids extracted from Hook Ridge sediment were depleted in chloride, sulfate and magnesium by up to 8% relative to seawater, enriched in lithium, boron and calcium, and had a distinct strontium isotope composition (87Sr/86Sr = 0.708776 at core base) compared with modern seawater (87Sr/86Sr ≈0.70918), indicating advection of hydrothermal fluid through sediment at this site. Biogeochemical zonation of redox active species implies significant moderation of the hydrothermal fluid with in situ diagenetic processes. At Middle Sister, the central ridge of the Three Sisters complex located about 100 km southwest of Hook Ridge, small water column Eh anomalies were detected but visual observations of the seafloor and pore fluid profiles provided no evidence of active hydrothermal circulation. At The Axe, located about 50 km southwest of Three Sisters, no water column anomalies in Eh, temperature or turbidity were detected. These observations demonstrate that the temperature anomalies observed in previous surveys are episodic features, and suggest that hydrothermal circulation in the Bransfield Strait is ephemeral in nature and therefore may not support vent biota.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1371/journal.pone.0054686
ISSN: 19326203
Date made live: 28 Jan 2013 14:44 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/447646

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