Abstract

Densities of layer 2 basalt recovered during the Deep Sea Drilling Project have been found to decrease steadily with age, a finding ascribed to progressive submarine weathering in the context of sea-floor spreading. The least-squares solution for 52 density measurements gives a rate of decrease in density of Δρ/Δt = −0.46 × 10−2 g per cm3 m.y. = −16 percent per 100 m.y., which is in excellent agreement with earlier estimates based on observed chemical depletion rates of dredged oceanic basalt. Weathering of sea-floor basalt, should it penetrate to any considerable depth in layer 2, will decrease layer 2 seismic refraction velocities, act as a source of geothermal heat, and substantially influence the chemistry of sea water and the overlying column of sediment.

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