Trace Metal and Sulfur Dynamics in the First Meter of Buoyant Hydrothermal Vent Plumes
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
The speciation and reactivity of metals and metal sulfides within the buoyant plume is critical to determining the ultimate fate of metals emitted from hydrothermal vents. The concentration, size fractionation, and partitioning of trace metals (Fe, Mn, Cu, Co, Zn, Cd, Pb) were determined within the first meter of the rising plume at three vent fields (TAG, Snakepit, and Rainbow) along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. At Rainbow, total Fe concentrations exceed total sulfide concentrations by an order of magnitude, whereas at the other two sites, total Fe and total sulfide concentrations are nearly equal. At all three sites, Mn and Fe are primarily in the filtered (< 0.2 µm) fraction and Cu, Co, Zn, Cd, and Pb are mainly in the unfiltered fraction. At TAG and Snakepit, unfiltered copper is correlated with unfiltered cobalt, and unfiltered zinc is correlated with unfiltered cadmium and lead. At Rainbow, unfiltered zinc, cadmium and lead are correlated, but unfiltered copper and cobalt are not, indicating precipitation dynamics at Rainbow are different than those at TAG and Snakepit due to bulk geochemical differences, including a higher iron to sulfide ratio. A sequential HCl/HNO3 leaching method was used to distinguish metals present in pyrite and chalcopyrite in both unfiltered and filtered samples. Significant portions of unfiltered Cu and Co were extracted in HNO3, whereas unfiltered Zn, Cd, and Pb were extracted in HCl. Up to 95 % of filtered Cu, Co, and Zn, up to 80% Cd, and up to 60 % Pb are only extractable in HNO3, indicating that a significant portion of metals < 0.2 µm are incorporated into a recalcitrant fraction such as nanoparticulate pyrite or chalcopyrite.