Hydrothermal Plume Fallout, Mass Wasting, and Volcanic Eruptions Contribute to Sediments at Loki's Castle Vent Field, Mohns Ridge

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Abstract

Sediments surrounding hydrothermal vents are important transition spaces between hydrothermal and pelagic environments. These sediments accumulate through diverse processes that include water column plume fallout, volcanic ash deposition, and mass wasting of hydrothermal chimneys and mounds superimposed upon background sedimentation which may originate from pelagic, terrestrial, and volcanic sources. In addition to being a sink for elements discharged from hydrothermal vents, elements may also be scavenged from seawater onto oxidized hydrothermal material. Preservation of these hydrothermal sediments may occur depending on the extent of oxidative and/or reductive dissolution processes after burial. Sediments remaining adjacent to active venting may also be hydrothermally altered after emplacement. To better understand these processes, here we evaluate sediment push cores collected from the Loki's Castle vent field at the intersection of the slow-ultraslow spreading Mohns and Knipovich mid-ocean ridges. All samples were collected within ∼225 m of current high-temperature (299–316°C) “black smoker” fluid discharge. These sediment cores are highly heterogeneous and lack stratigraphic correlation, even for samples taken within meters of each other. Most sediment cores are dominated by either pelagic sediments or mass wasted hydrothermal material, with hydrothermal plume fallout contributing a low proportion of material, and only a single volcanic ash layer occurring in one of the 13 cores. Dominant hydrothermal minerals found include talc, goethite, pyrite, pyrrhotite, and sphalerite. We find that even after several thousand years, most mass wasted hydrothermal material remains minimally altered, with sedimentation rates indistinguishable from background rates within several hundred meters of the hydrothermal vent source.

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Gartman, A., Payan, D., Au, M., Reeves, E. P., Jamieson, J. W., Gini, C., & Roerdink, D. (2024). Hydrothermal Plume Fallout, Mass Wasting, and Volcanic Eruptions Contribute to Sediments at Loki’s Castle Vent Field, Mohns Ridge. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 25(2). https://doi.org/10.1029/2023GC011094

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