Abstract

The flux of sediment matter was determined using sediment traps near a black smoker ("Saracen's Head", Broken Spur hydrothermal field) and the mineral and chemical compositions of the settled matter were examined. The metallic minerals are represented by Fe sulfides (pyrite and pyrrhotite), and Cu and Zn sulfides are also found in small and equal quantities. The hydrothermal suspended matter contains abiogenic calcite in amounts comparable to that in Ca sulfates. The content of silica and, specifically, of amorphous Si is unusually low. Such correlations between chemical elements and minerals, together with the isotopic compositions of S and C, are characteristic of a relatively young and active stage in the evolution of a hydrothermal system. Sediment traps within and under neutrally buoyant hydrothermal plumes collected biogenic material in addition to hydrothermal components. Microbial chemosynthetic production of organic carbon near the hydrothermal vent is comparable to primary production in the euphotic layer. Fe, Zn, Ca, Si, Ba and P are enriched in particulate matter in comparison to the background. A vast compound plume containing the discharge of multiple hydrothermal vents was found to the south of the Broken Spur hydrothermal field.

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