Fluxes to sediments underlying the Rainbow hydrothermal plume at 36°14′N on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

Cave, R.R.; German, C.R.; Thomson, J.; Nesbitt, R.W.. 2002 Fluxes to sediments underlying the Rainbow hydrothermal plume at 36°14′N on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 66 (11). 1905-1923.

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A geochemical investigation has been conducted of a suite of four sediment cores collected from directly beneath the hydrothermal plume at distances of 2 to 25 km from the Rainbow hydrothermal field. As well as a large biogenic component (>80% CaCO3) these sediments record clear enrichments of the elements Fe, Cu, Mn, V, P, and As from hydrothermal plume fallout but only minor detrital background material. Systematic variations in the abundances of "hydrothermal" elements are observed at increasing distance from the vent site, consistent with chemical evolution of the dispersing plume. Further, pronounced Ni and Cr enrichments at specific levels within each of the two cores collected from closest to the vent site are indicative of discrete episodes of additional input of ultrabasic material at these two near-field locations. Radiocarbon dating reveals mean Holocene accumulation rates for all four cores of 2.7 to 3.7 cm.kyr−1, with surface mixed layers 7 to 10+ cm thick, from which a history of deposition from the Rainbow hydrothermal plume can be deduced. Deposition from the plume supplies elements to the underlying sediments that are either directly hydrothermally sourced (e.g., Fe, Mn, Cu) or scavenged from seawater via the hydrothermal plume (e.g., V, P, As). Holocene fluxes into to the cores’ surface mixed layers are presented which, typically, are an order of magnitude greater than "background" authigenic fluxes from the open North Atlantic. One core, collected closest to the vent site, indicates that both the concentration and flux of hydrothermally derived material increased significantly at some point between 8 and 12 14C kyr ago; the preferred explanation is that this variation reflects the initiation/intensification of hydrothermal venting at the Rainbow hydrothermal field at this time—perhaps linked to some specific tectonic event in this fault-controlled hydrothermal setting.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0016-7037
Date made live: 07 Jun 2004 +0 (UTC)

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