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Titarenko, SS; McCaig, AM (2016)
Publisher: Wiley
Languages: English
Types: Article
The Lost City hydrothermal field (LCHF) is hosted in serpentinite at the crest of the Atlantis Massif, an oceanic core complex close to the mid-Atlantic Ridge. It is remarkable for its longevity and for venting low-temperature (40–91°C) alkaline fluids rich in hydrogen and methane. IODP Hole U1309D, 5 km north of the LCHF, penetrated 1415 m of gabbroic rocks and contains a near-conductive thermal gradient close to 100°C/km. This is remarkable so close to an active hydrothermal field. We present hydrothermal modelling using a topographic profile through the vent field and IODP site U1309. Long-lived circulation with vent temperatures similar to the LCHF can be sustained at moderate permeabilities of 10e-14 to 10e-15 m2 with a basal heatflow of 0.22 W m2. Seafloor topography is an important control, with vents tending to form and remain in higher topography. Models with a uniform permeability throughout the Massif cannot simultaneously maintain circulation at the LCHF and the near-conductive gradient in the borehole, where permeabilities <10e-16 m2 are required. A steeply dipping permeability discontinuity between the LCHF and the drill hole is required to stabilize venting at the summit of the massif by creating a lateral conductive boundary layer. The discontinuity needs to be close to the vent site, supporting previous inferences that high permeability is most likely produced by faulting related to the transform fault. Rapid increases in modelled fluid temperatures with depth beneath the vent agree with previous estimates of reaction temperature based on geochemical modelling.
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    • Additional Supporting Information may be found in the online version of this article: Figure S1. Temperature gradient measured in IODP 340T (Blackman et al. 2013). Figure S2. Density (blue line) and viscosity (green line) profiles of pure water at 500 bars pressure (Wagner & Kretzschmar 2008). Figure S3. Thermal conductivity (blue line) and heat capacity (green line) for rocks used in this study. Room temperature conductivity is the average of gabbro and olivine gabbro/troctolite from Blackman et al. (2006).
    • Temperature dependence from Bouhifd et al. (2007) and Seipold (1998). Figure S4. Example of our temperature dependent permeability function. Permeability below 800°C is variable, depending on model and domain. Table S1. Comparison of permeability domains and mesh size for different models. For all models the maximum element size is 198 m. Table S2. Comparison of pure water properties along a 500 bar isobar, and at variable pressure reflecting the top and base of the permeable zone. Movie S1. Temperature evolution in model A14, in which the permeability of domains 1 and 2 (Fig. 2) is 10 14 m2, while that of domain 3 is 10 22 m2. Movie S2. Temperature evolution of model A15 in which domains 1 and 2 (Fig. 2) both have permeability 10 15 m2. Movie S3. Thermal evolution of model B14. Model B15 (not shown) displays similar flow patterns to B14, but with a slower onset of circulation and less instability at <50 k years.
    • Movie S4. Thermal evolution in model C14. Appendix S1. Model development and numerical parameters.
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