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Abstract

Hydrothermal activity on submarine volcanic arcs in the western Pacific Ocean is known but mostly unexplored. In March 1999, the New Zealand American PLUme Mapping Expedition (NZAPLUME) cruise conducted the first systematic exploration of hydrothermal venting along a sizeable section of an intra-oceanic arc, visiting 13 volcanoes along 260 km of the southern Kermadec arc, just northeast of New Zealand. Conclusive evidence of hydrothermal plumes exists for seven of the 13 volcanoes; at two other volcanoes plume indications were weak and uncertain. The hydrothermal origin of the particle plumes was confirmed by positive anomalies in the ratios of sulphur, iron and copper to titanium relative to non-plume particles, in mass concentrations similar to particles collected from hydrothermal plumes over mid-ocean ridges. The spatial density of active sites along the southern Kermadec arc is at least 2.7 per 100 km (2.7/100 km), probably not significantly different from the weakly constrained value of c. 1/100 km on slow- and intermediate-rate mid-ocean ridges. An analysis of the number of hydrothermal fields produced for the magma delivery rate in each of these environments suggests that the southern Kermadec arc presently has relatively abundant hydrothermal activity. While this result cannot yet be generalized to other Pacific arcs, submarine volcanoes may contribute significantly to the global hydrothermal budget.

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