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Geology, sulfide geochemistry and supercritical venting at the Beebe Hydrothermal Vent Field, Cayman Trough

Geology, sulfide geochemistry and supercritical venting at the Beebe Hydrothermal Vent Field, Cayman Trough
Geology, sulfide geochemistry and supercritical venting at the Beebe Hydrothermal Vent Field, Cayman Trough
The Beebe Vent Field (BVF) is the world's deepest known hydrothermal system, at 4960m below sea level. Located on the Mid-Cayman Spreading Centre, Caribbean, the BVF hosts high temperature (?401°C) ‘black smoker' vents that build Cu, Zn and Au-rich sulphide mounds and chimneys. The BVF is highly gold-rich, with Au values up to 93 ppm and an average Au:Ag ratio of 0.15. Gold precipitation is directly associated with diffuse flow through ‘beehive' chimneys. Significant mass-wasting of sulphide material at the BVF, accompanied by changes in metal content, results in metaliferous talus and sediment deposits. Situated on very thin (2-3km thick) oceanic crust, at an ultraslow spreading centre, the hydrothermal system circulates fluids to a depth of ?1.8km in a basement that is likely to include a mixture of both mafic and ultramafic lithologies. We suggest hydrothermal interaction with chalcophile-bearing sulphides in the mantle rocks, together with precipitation of Au in beehive chimney structures, has resulted in the formation of a Au-rich volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) deposit. With its spatial distribution of deposit materials and metal contents, the BVF represents a modern day analogue for basalt hosted, Au-rich VMS systems. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
VMS, Hydrothermal, Gold, Piccard, Seafloor, Black smoker
1525-2027
2661-2678
Webber, Alexander P.
c9b7b1e3-ea40-4740-805e-914806eeaeb7
Roberts, Stephen
f095c7ab-a37b-4064-8a41-ae4820832856
Murton, Bramley J.
9076d07f-a3c1-4f90-a5d5-99b27fe2cb12
Hodgkinson, Matthew R.S.
2e2ab582-a6af-4f26-9427-9a95023681da
Webber, Alexander P.
c9b7b1e3-ea40-4740-805e-914806eeaeb7
Roberts, Stephen
f095c7ab-a37b-4064-8a41-ae4820832856
Murton, Bramley J.
9076d07f-a3c1-4f90-a5d5-99b27fe2cb12
Hodgkinson, Matthew R.S.
2e2ab582-a6af-4f26-9427-9a95023681da

Webber, Alexander P., Roberts, Stephen, Murton, Bramley J. and Hodgkinson, Matthew R.S. (2015) Geology, sulfide geochemistry and supercritical venting at the Beebe Hydrothermal Vent Field, Cayman Trough. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 16 (8), 2661-2678. (doi:10.1002/2015GC005879).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The Beebe Vent Field (BVF) is the world's deepest known hydrothermal system, at 4960m below sea level. Located on the Mid-Cayman Spreading Centre, Caribbean, the BVF hosts high temperature (?401°C) ‘black smoker' vents that build Cu, Zn and Au-rich sulphide mounds and chimneys. The BVF is highly gold-rich, with Au values up to 93 ppm and an average Au:Ag ratio of 0.15. Gold precipitation is directly associated with diffuse flow through ‘beehive' chimneys. Significant mass-wasting of sulphide material at the BVF, accompanied by changes in metal content, results in metaliferous talus and sediment deposits. Situated on very thin (2-3km thick) oceanic crust, at an ultraslow spreading centre, the hydrothermal system circulates fluids to a depth of ?1.8km in a basement that is likely to include a mixture of both mafic and ultramafic lithologies. We suggest hydrothermal interaction with chalcophile-bearing sulphides in the mantle rocks, together with precipitation of Au in beehive chimney structures, has resulted in the formation of a Au-rich volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) deposit. With its spatial distribution of deposit materials and metal contents, the BVF represents a modern day analogue for basalt hosted, Au-rich VMS systems. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: July 2015
Published date: July 2015
Keywords: VMS, Hydrothermal, Gold, Piccard, Seafloor, Black smoker
Organisations: Geochemistry, Marine Geoscience

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 379567
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/379567
ISSN: 1525-2027
PURE UUID: 914d2670-737c-40e1-aded-d060567dbc0f
ORCID for Stephen Roberts: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-4755-6703

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 23 Jul 2015 13:36
Last modified: 03 Dec 2019 02:06

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