Hydrothermal circulation in fast spread ocean crust – where and how much? Insight from ODP Hole 1256D

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 1:40 PM
Michelle Harris1, Rosalind Mary Coggon2, Christopher E Smith-Duque3 and Damon A H Teagle1, (1)University of Southampton, Southampton, SO14, United Kingdom, (2)University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom, (3)Universtiy of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
Understanding and quantifying hydrothermal circulation is critical to testing models of the accretion of lower ocean crust and quantifying global geochemical cycles. However, our understanding is principally limited by a lack of direct observations from intact ocean crust. Key questions remain about the magnitude of hydrothermal fluid fluxes, the nature and distribution of fluid pathways and their global variability.

ODP Hole 1256D in the eastern equatorial Pacific samples a complete section of 15 Myr old upper ocean crust down to the dike/gabbro transition zone. A high spatial resolution Sr isotope profile is integrated with wireline studies, volcanostratigraphy, petrography and mineral geochemistry to document fluid pathways and develop a model for the evolving hydrothermal system during volcanic construction of the crust. Major off-axis fluid conduits in the volcanic sequence are restricted to the flow margins of two anomalously thick (>25 m) massive flows, indicating that massive flows act as a permeability barrier for fluid flow. Dike margins are pathways for both recharge and discharge hydrothermal fluids. Sub-horizontal channeling of high temperature fluids at the dike/gabbro boundary is a common attribute of most cartoons of mid ocean ridge hydrothermal systems. Hole 1256D provides the first in situ observations of the dike/gabbro transition zone and records lateral fluid transport along intrusive boundaries.

The time-integrated fluid flux in the sheeted dikes of Hole 1256D calculated using Sr isotope mass balance is ~1.8 x 106 kg/m2. This is similar to fluid fluxes from other studies (Hole 504B, Pito Deep, Hess Deep) despite large variations in the thickness and Sr isotope profiles of the sheeted dike complexes, suggesting that hydrothermal fluid fluxes are remarkably uniform and independent of the local structure of the crust. This fluid flux is not large enough to completely remove the heat flux from crystallizing and cooling the lower crust and requires deeper hydrothermal circulation in the lower crust.