Estimating the Heat and Mass Flux at the ASHES Hydrothermal Vent Field with the Sentry Autonomous Underwater Vehicle

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
James C Kinsey1, Timothy J Crone2, Eric L Mittelstaedt3, Lashika Medagoda1, Dehann Fourie4 and Koichi Nakamura5, (1)Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Woods Hole, MA, United States, (2)Lamont -Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, NY, United States, (3)University of Idaho Library, Moscow, ID, United States, (4)Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mechanical Engineering, Cambridge, MA, United States, (5)AIST/IGG, Tsukuba, Japan
Hydrothermal venting influences ocean chemistry, the thermal and chemical structure of the oceanic crust, the style of accretion at mid-ocean ridges, and the evolution of unique and diverse chemosynthetic ecosystems. Surprisingly, only a few studies have attempted to constrain the volume and heat flux of entire hydrothermal vent fields given that axially-hosted hydrothermal systems are estimated to be responsible for ~20-25% of the total heat flux out of the Earth’s interior, as well as potentially playing a large role in global and local biogeochemical cycles. However, same-site estimates can vary greatly, such as at the Lucky Strike Field where estimates range from 100 MW to 3800 MW. We report a July 2014 field program with the Sentry AUV that obtains the water velocity and heat measurements necessary to estimate the total heat and mass flux emanating from the ASHES hydrothermal vent field. We equipped Sentry with a Nortek acoustic Doppler velocimeter (ADV) with an inertial measurement unit attached, two acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs), and two SBE3 temperature probes, to measure the temperature and water velocity. This sensing suite provided more accurate measurements than previous AUV based studies. A control volume approach was employed in which Sentry was pre-programmed to survey a 150m by 150m box centered over the vent field flying a “mowing the lawn” pattern at 5m trackline spacing followed by a survey of the perimeter. During a 40 hour survey, the pattern was repeated 9 times allowing us to obtain observations over multiple tidal cycles. Concurrent lowered ADCP (LADCP) measurements were also obtained. Water velocity data obtained with Sentry was corrected for platform motion and then combined with the temperature measurements to estimate heat flux. Analysis of this data is on-going, however these experiments permit us to quantify the heat and mass exiting the control volume, and potentially provide the most accurate and highest resolution heat and mass flux estimates at a hydrothermal field to date.