Geology, sulfide geochemistry and supercritical venting at the Beebe Hydrothermal Vent Field, Cayman Trough

Webber, Alexander P.; Roberts, Stephen; Murton, Bramley J. ORCID:; Hodgkinson, Matthew R.S.. 2015 Geology, sulfide geochemistry and supercritical venting at the Beebe Hydrothermal Vent Field, Cayman Trough. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 16 (8). 2661-2678.

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© 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. This is the peer reviewed version of the article which will be been published in final form at 10.1002/2015GC005879. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving. The definitive version is available at
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AGU Publisher statement: An edited version of this paper was published by AGU. © 2015 American Geophysical Union. Further reproduction or electronic distribution is not permitted doi:10.1002/2015GC005879
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The Beebe Vent Field (BVF) is the world's deepest known hydrothermal system, at 4960m below sea level. Located on the Mid-Cayman Spreading Centre, Caribbean, the BVF hosts high temperature (∼401°C) ‘black smoker' vents that build Cu, Zn and Au-rich sulphide mounds and chimneys. The BVF is highly gold-rich, with Au values up to 93 ppm and an average Au:Ag ratio of 0.15. Gold precipitation is directly associated with diffuse flow through ‘beehive' chimneys. Significant mass-wasting of sulphide material at the BVF, accompanied by changes in metal content, results in metaliferous talus and sediment deposits. Situated on very thin (2-3km thick) oceanic crust, at an ultraslow spreading centre, the hydrothermal system circulates fluids to a depth of ∼1.8km in a basement that is likely to include a mixture of both mafic and ultramafic lithologies. We suggest hydrothermal interaction with chalcophile-bearing sulphides in the mantle rocks, together with precipitation of Au in beehive chimney structures, has resulted in the formation of a Au-rich volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) deposit. With its spatial distribution of deposit materials and metal contents, the BVF represents a modern day analogue for basalt hosted, Au-rich VMS systems. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 15252027
Additional Keywords: VMS; Hydrothermal; Gold; Piccard; Seafloor; Black smoker
NORA Subject Terms: Marine Sciences
Date made live: 23 Jul 2015 13:42 +0 (UTC)

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