Talc-dominated seafloor deposits reveal a new class of hydrothermal system

Hodgkinson, Matthew; Webber, Alexander; Roberts, Stephen; Mills, Rachel A.; Connelly, Douglas P.; Murton, Bramley J. ORCID: 2015 Talc-dominated seafloor deposits reveal a new class of hydrothermal system. Nature Communications, 6. 10150.

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The Von Damm Vent Field (VDVF) is located on the flanks of the Mid-Cayman Spreading Centre, 13 km west of the axial rift, within a gabbro and peridotite basement. Unlike any other active vent field, hydrothermal precipitates at the VDVF comprise 85–90% by volume of the magnesium silicate mineral, talc. Hydrothermal fluids vent from a 3-m high, 1-m diameter chimney and other orifices at up to 215 °C with low metal concentrations, intermediate pH (5.8) and high concentrations (667 mmol kg−1) of chloride relative to seawater. Here we show that the VDVF vent fluid is generated by interaction of seawater with a mafic and ultramafic basement which precipitates talc on mixing with seawater. The heat flux at the VDVF is measured at 487±101 MW, comparable to the most powerful magma-driven hydrothermal systems known, and may represent a significant mode of off-axis oceanic crustal cooling not previously recognized or accounted for in global models.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 2041-1723
Date made live: 22 Oct 2015 15:34 +0 (UTC)

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