Abstract

Sublacustrine hydrothermal vents with associated massive sulfides were discovered during April 1987 at Pemba and Cape Banza on the Zaire side of the northern basin of Lake Tanganyika, East African Rift system. New investigations by a team of ten scuba divers during the multinational (France, Zaire, Germany, and Burundi) TANGANYDRO expedition (August-October 1991) found hydrothermal vents down to a depth of 46 m along north-trending active faults bounding the Tanganyika rift on the western side. Temperatures from 53 to 103 °C were measured in hydrothermal fluids and sediments. Veins of massive sulfides 1-10 cm thick (pyrite and marcasite banding) were found associated with vents at the Pemba site. At Cape Banza,active vents are characterized by 1-70-cm-high aragonite chimneys, and there are microcrystalline pyrite coatings on the walls of hydrothermal pipes. Hydrothermal fluid end members show distinctive compositions at the two sites. The Pemba end member is a NaHCO3-enriched fluid similar to the NaHCO3 thermal fluids from lakes Magadi and Bogoria in the eastern branch off the rift. The Cape Banza end member is a solution enriched in NaCl. Such brines may have a deep-seated basement origin, as do the Uvinza NaCl brines on the eastern flank of the Tanganyika basin. Geothermometric calculations have yielded temperatures of fluid-rock interaction off 219 and 179 °C in the Pemba and Cape Banza systems, respectively. Abundant white or reddish-brown microbial colonies resembling Beggiatoa mats were found surrounding the active vents. Thermal fluid circulation is permitted by opening of cracks related to 130 °N normal-dextral faults that intersect the north- south major rift trend. The source of heat for such hydrothermal systems may relate to the existence of magmatic bodies under the rift, which is suggested by the isotopic composition of carbon dioxide released at Pemba and Cape Banza.

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