Characteristics of Hydrothermal Mineralization in Ultraslow Spreading Ridges

Friday, 19 December 2014: 9:00 AM
Huaiyang Zhou1, Qunhui Yang1, Fuwu Ji1 and Henry J Dick2, (1)Tongji University, State Key Laboratory of Marine Geology, Shanghai, China, (2)WHOI, Woods Hole, MA, United States
Hydrothermal activity is a major component of the processes that shape the composition and structure of the ocean crust, providing a major pathway for the exchange of heat and elements between the Earth’s crust and oceans, and a locus for intense biological activity on the seafloor and underlying crust. In other hand, the structure and composition of hydrothermal systems are the result of complex interactions between heat sources, fluids, wall rocks, tectonic controls and even biological processes.

Ultraslow spreading ridges, including the Southwest Indian Ridge, the Gakkel Ridge, are most remarkable end member in plate-boundary structures (Dick et al., 2003), featured with extensive tectonic amagmatic spreading and frequent exposure of peridotite and gabbro. With intensive surveys in last decades, it is suggested that ultraslow ridges are several times more effective than faster-spreading ridges in sustaining hydrothermal activities. This increased efficiency could attributed to deep mining of heat and even exothermic serpentinisation (Baker et al., 2004).

Distinct from in faster spreading ridges, one characteristics of hydrothermal mineralization on seafloor in ultraslow spreading ridges, including the active Dragon Flag hydrothermal field at 49.6 degree of the Southwest Indian Ridge, is abundant and pervasive distribution of lower temperature precipitated minerals ( such as Fe-silica or silica, Mn (Fe) oxides, sepiolite, pyrite, marcasite etc. ) in hydrothermal fields. Structures formed by lower temperature activities in active and dead hydrothermal fields are also obviously. High temperature precipitated minerals such as chalcopyrite etc. are rare or very limited in hydrothermal chimneys. Distribution of diverse low temperature hydrothermal activities is consistence with the deep heating mechanisms and hydrothermal circulations in the complex background of ultraslow spreading tectonics. Meanwhile, deeper and larger mineralization at certain locations along the ultraslow spreading ridges is also presumable.