A near-seafloor magnetic and bathymetric survey conducted by the autonomous underwater vehicle AutoSub 6000 over intermediate-temperature, ultramafic-hosted Von Damm Vent Field (Mid-Cayman spreading center, Caribbean Sea) revealed a moderate positive magnetic anomaly, in accordance with the magnetic response of other known ultramafic-hosted hydrothermal vent fields. However, compared with low-temperature ultramafic-hosted hydrothermal activity, the magnetic signature of this intermediate-temperature site indicates a slightly stronger magnetization contrast between the hydrothermal system and its host, but it remains considerably weaker than at high-temperature ultramafic-hosted hydrothermal vent fields. This observation highlights the nonlinear increase of magnetization production with temperature, as iron partitions into weakly magnetic brucite under 200 °C, but magnetite dominates above this temperature, leading to a sudden increase in the magnetic signature of a site. Our study is consistent with recent laboratory experiments and unveils the dynamics of the serpentinization reaction, enabling fine tuning of the magnetic technique for remotely locating hydrothermal systems. In addition to refining our understanding of the magnetic behavior of hydrothermal vent fields, these new results also reveal the orientation of the fluid pathway feeding the hydrothermal site and indicate the nonvertical structure of the complex network of fissures within the host rock and its associated tectonic feature—an oceanic core complex.

You do not currently have access to this article.