Using the VentCam and Optical Plume Velocimetry to Measure High-Temperature Hydrothermal Fluid Flow Rates in the ASHES Vent Field on Axial Volcano

Monday, 15 December 2014: 11:50 AM
Timothy J Crone, Lamont -Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, NY, United States, Eric L Mittelstaedt, University of Idaho Library, Moscow, ID, United States and Daniel J Fornari, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, United States
Fluid flow rates through high-temperature mid-ocean ridge hydrothermal vents are likely quite sensitive to poroelastic forcing mechanisms such as tidal loading and tectonic activity. Because poroelastic deformation and flow perturbations are estimated to extend to considerable depths within young oceanic crust, observations of flow rate changes at seafloor vents have the potential to provide constraints on the flow geometry and permeability structure of the underlying hydrothermal systems, as well as the quantities of heat and chemicals they exchange with overlying ocean, and the potential biological productivity of ecosystems they host.

To help provide flow rate measurements in these challenging environments, we have developed two new optical flow oriented technologies. The first is a new form of Optical Plume Velocimetry (OPV) which relies on single-frame temporal cross-correlation to obtain time-averaged image velocity fields from short video sequences. The second is the VentCam, a deep sea camera system that can collect high-frame-rate video sequences at focused hydrothermal vents suitable for analysis with OPV.

During the July 2014 R/V Atlantis/Alvin expedition to Axial Seamount, we deployed the VentCam at the ~300C Phoenix vent within the ASHES vent field and positioned it with DSRV Alvin. We collected 24 seconds of video at 50 frames per second every half-hour for approximately 10 days beginning July 22nd. We are currently applying single-frame lag OPV to these videos to estimate relative and absolute fluid flow rates through this vent. To explore the relationship between focused and diffuse venting, we deployed a second optical flow camera, the Diffuse Effluent Measurement System (DEMS), adjacent to this vent at a fracture within the lava carapace where low-T (~30C) fluids were exiting. This system collected video sequences and diffuse flow measurements at overlapping time intervals. Here we present the preliminary results of our work with VentCam and OPV, and comparisons with results from the DEMS camera.