Abstract

A hydrothermal system characterized by high ratios of methane to both manganese and suspended particulate matter was detected in seawater sampled at the eastern intersection of the rift valley of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge with the Fifteen-Twenty Fracture Zone. This finding contrasts with low ratios in black smoker-type hydrothermal systems that occur within spreading segments. Near-bottom water sampling coordinated with SeaBeam bathymetry and camera-temperature tows detected the highest concentrations of methane at fault zones in rocks with the appearance of altered ultramafic units in a large dome that forms part of the inside corner high at the intersection. The distinct chemical signatures of the two types of hydrothermal systems are inferred to be controlled by different circulation pathways related to reaction of seawater primarily with ultramafic rocks at intersections of spreading segments with fracture zones but with mafic rocks within spreading segments.

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