The 3-D subseafloor architecture of submarine hydrothermal systems is largely unknown, particularly at arc volcanoes. The alteration of volcanic rocks in these systems produces dramatic changes in their magnetic properties. Here, we present the first comprehensive study of paleomagnetic measurements from oriented samples of hydrothermally altered dacites from Brothers volcano (Kermadec arc), drilled during International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 376. These data have enabled insight into the progressive evolution of magnetic minerals in subseafloor volcanic rocks affected by variable types and degrees of hydrothermal alteration in response to varying fluid temperatures, chemistry, and associated mineralization; from initial chloritization typical of relatively low-temperature interaction with seawater to extremely altered rocks affected by higher-temperature, very acidic magmatic fluids.
Hydrothermally altered samples show a significant reduction in natural remanent magnetization intensity (10–4 to 10–2 A/m) compared with unaltered samples (1–10 A/m), suggesting that primary titanomagnetite grains are destroyed during the hydrothermal alteration process. Except for a small region in proximity to the mineralized stockwork zone, no chemical remanent magnetization is observed in association with hydrothermal alteration, consistent with the widespread formation of diamagnetic and/or paramagnetic minerals such as pyrite, rutile, and leucoxene, which do not carry any natural remanent magnetization.
Demagnetization experiments show that most of the oriented samples possess a stable characteristic remanent magnetization induced by the residual primary magnetic minerals formed at the time the rocks cooled on the sea floor. Partially chloritized dacites, however, are characterized by large magnetic susceptibilities, low Koenigsberger ratios, and very low magnetic coercivities, consistent with initial dissolution of smaller, singledomain magnetic grains, indicating that intensely hydrothermally altered rocks are better paleomagnetic indicators than initially chloritized samples at the periphery of the hydrothermal systems.
The significant magnetic contrast between fresh and hydrothermally altered rocks, in addition to a thick layer (>300 m) of demagnetized rocks observed at Brothers volcano, confirms the empirical results that magnetic anomalies are important geophysical tools to determine the geometry of hydrothermal systems at submarine arc volcanoes.