Separation of 3He and CH4 signals on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and 5°N and 51°N

Keir, Robin, Sültenfuß, J., Rhein, Monika, Petrick, Gert and Greinert, Jens (2006) Separation of 3He and CH4 signals on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and 5°N and 51°N Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 70 . pp. 5766-5778. DOI 10.1016/j.gca.2006.06.005.

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Abiogenic methane may be produced in submarine hydrothermal systems by degassing of basalts or serpentinization of ultramafic outcrops. The latter process presumably releases little primordial helium and is therefore implicated by high CH4/3He ratios in vent fluids from the ultramafic-hosted Rainbow field and in methane plumes near ultramafic outcrops. In two segments of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, at 5.4°N and 51°N, we have observed depth-separated CH4 and 3He plumes. In both cases, the helium plume was deeper, near the valley floor. It may be that the plumes issue from separate vents, where the helium is discharged near the volcanic axis and the methane is generated by serpentinization on the valley wall. However, at the present time the locations of the vents that produce these plumes are not known. Using a one-pass model, we investigated whether separate venting could arise from heat conduction from a primary, helium-carrying, hydrothermal circulation to a second, shallower fracture loop intersecting ultramafic rock. The model results indicate that the flow rate through the secondary loop would have to be relatively low in order for it to stay warm enough for serpentinization to proceed. In this case, some of the exothermic heat production is lost by conduction, and the temperature increase in the circulating fluid is only a fraction of that expected from a water/rock ratio of 1:1.

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-CH Chemical Oceanography
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB2 Marine Biogeochemistry > FB2-MG Marine Geosystems
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.gca.2006.06.005
ISSN: 0016-7037
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2008 16:51
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2017 11:47

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