Strontium and oxygen isotopic profiles through 3km of hydrothermally altered oceanic crust in the Reykjanes Geothermal System, Iceland

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The Iceland Deep Drilling Program well RN-17 was drilled 3km into a section of hydrothermally altered basaltic crust in the Reykjanes geothermal system in Iceland. The system is located on the landward extension of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and the circulating hydrothermal fluid is modified seawater, making Reykjanes a useful analog for mid-oceanic ridge hydrothermal systems. We have determined whole-rock Sr and O isotope compositions, and Sr isotope compositions of epidote grains from the RN-17 cuttings and RN-17B core. Whole rock oxygen isotope ratios range from -0.13 to 3.61‰ V-SMOW, and are isotopically lighter than fresh MORB (5.8±0.2‰). The concentrations of Sr in the altered basalt range from well below to well above concentrations in fresh rock, and appear to be strongly correlated with the dominant alteration mineralogy. Whole rock Sr isotope ratios ranged from 0.70329 in the least altered crystalline basalt, to 0.70609 in the most altered hyaloclastite samples; there is no correlation with depth. Sr isotope ratios in epidote grains measured by laser ablation MC-ICP-MS ranged from 0.70360 to 0.70731. Three depth intervals, at 1000m, 1350m, and 1650m depth, have distinctive isotopic signatures, where <sup>87</sup>Sr/<sup>86</sup>Sr ratios are elevated (mean value>0.7050) relative to background levels (mean altered basalt value ~0.7042). These areas are proximal to geothermal feed zones, and the 1350m interval directly overlies the transition from dominantly extrusive to dominantly intrusive lithologies. Oxygen isotope measurements yield integrated water/rock ratios of 0.4 to 4.3, and suggest that hydrothermal fluids must have formerly had a component of meteoric water. Strontium isotopic measurements provide a more sensitive indication of seawater interaction and require significant exchange with seawater strontium. Both isotopic systems indicate that the greenschist-altered basalts were in equilibrium with hydrothermal fluids at a relatively high mean water/rock (Wt.) ratio ranging from about 0.5 to 4. These ratios are higher than estimates from ODP Hole 504B and IODP Hole 1256D, but are consistent with values inferred from vent fluids from 21° and 13°N on the East Pacific Rise (Albarède et al., 1981; Michard et al., 1984; Alt et al., 1996; Harris et al., 2015).




Marks, N., Zierenberg, R. A., & Schiffman, P. (2015). Strontium and oxygen isotopic profiles through 3km of hydrothermally altered oceanic crust in the Reykjanes Geothermal System, Iceland. Chemical Geology, 412, 34–47.

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