Refining the Subseafloor Circulation Model of the Middle Valley Hydrothermal System Using Fluid Geochemistry

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Katherine E Inderbitzen, University of Alaska School of Fisheries & Ocean Science, Marina, CA, United States, Charles Geoffrey Wheat, NURP/ Univ Alaska, Moss Landing, CA, United States, Paul A Baker, Duke University, Durham, NC, United States and Andrew T Fisher, UC Santa Cruz, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Santa Cruz, CA, United States
Currently, fluid circulation patterns and the evolution of rock/fluid compositions as circulation occurs in subseafloor hydrothermal systems are poorly constrained. Sedimented spreading centers provide a unique opportunity to study subsurface flow because sediment acts as an insulating blanket that traps heat from the cooling magma body and limits: (a) potential flow paths for seawater to recharge the aquifer in permeable upper basaltic basement and (b) points of altered fluid egress. This also allows for a range of thermal and geochemical gradients to exist near the sediment-water interface. Models of fluid circulation patterns in this type of hydrologic setting have been generated (eg. Stein and Fisher, 2001); however fluid chemistry datasets have not previously been used to test the model’s viability. We address this issue by integrating the existing circulation model with fluid compositional data collected from sediment pore waters and high temperature hydrothermal vents located in Middle Valley on the Juan de Fuca Ridge. Middle Valley hosts a variety of hydrologic regimes: including areas of fluid recharge (Site 855), active venting (Site 858/1036; Dead Dog vent field), recent venting (Site 856/1035; Bent Hill Massive Sulfide deposit) and a section of heavily sedimented basement located between recharge and discharge sites (Site 857). We will present new results based on thermal and geochemical data from the area of active venting (Sites 858 and 1036), that was collected during Ocean Drilling Program Legs 139 and 169 and a subsequent heat flow/gravity coring effort. These results illuminate fine scale controls on secondary recharge and fluid flow within the sediment section at Site 858/1036. The current status of high temperature vents in this area (based on observations made in July, 2014) will also be outlined.