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Geological fate of seafloor massive sulphides at the TAG hydrothermal field (Mid-Atlantic Ridge)

Geological fate of seafloor massive sulphides at the TAG hydrothermal field (Mid-Atlantic Ridge)
Geological fate of seafloor massive sulphides at the TAG hydrothermal field (Mid-Atlantic Ridge)

Deep-sea mineral deposits potentially represent vast metal resources that could make a major contribution to future global raw material supply. Increasing demand for these metals, many of which are required to enable a low-carbon and high-technology society and to relieve pressure on land-based resources, may result in deep sea mining within the next decade. Seafloor massive sulphide (SMS) deposits, containing abundant copper, zinc, gold and silver, have been the subject of recent and ongoing commercial interest. Although many seafloor hydrothermally systems have been studied, inactive SMS deposits are likely more accessible to future mining and far more abundant, but are often obscured by pelagic sediment and hence difficult to locate. Furthermore, SMS deposits are three dimensional. Yet, to date, very few have been explored or sampled below the seafloor. Here, we describe the most comprehensive study to date of hydrothermally extinct seafloor massive sulphide (eSMS) deposits formed at a slow spreading ridge. Our approach involved two research cruises in the summer of 2016 to the Trans-Atlantic Geotraverse (TAG) hydrothermal field at 26°N on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. These expeditions mapped a number of hydrothermally extinct SMS deposits using an autonomous underwater vehicle and remotely operated vehicle, acquired a combination of geophysical data including sub-seafloor seismic reflection and refraction data from 25 ocean bottom instruments, and recovered core using a robotic lander-type seafloor drilling rig. Together, these results that have allowed us to construct a new generic model for extinct seafloor massive sulphide deposits indicate the presence of up to five times more massive sulphide at and below the seafloor than was previously thought.

High-resolution mapping, Seafloor drilling, Seafloor massive sulphide, Seismic imaging
0169-1368
903-925
Murton, Bramley J.
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Lehrmann, Berit
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Dutrieux, Adeline M.
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Martins, Sofia
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de la Iglesia, Alba Gil
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Stobbs, Iain J.
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Barriga, Fernando J.A.S.
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Bialas, Jörg
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Dannowski, Anke
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Vardy, Mark E.
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North, Laurence J.
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Yeo, Isobel A.L.M.
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Lusty, Paul A.J.
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Petersen, Sven
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Murton, Bramley J.
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Lehrmann, Berit
3a90a549-fcd6-4b5e-b361-7d31130d7a2f
Dutrieux, Adeline M.
d84e2fe8-e706-4a2c-90e6-d16295e803c6
Martins, Sofia
9b7ee34c-76af-4f7a-9fd0-356544f23544
de la Iglesia, Alba Gil
8f25b35a-bb95-4b53-b46e-1ebef7fa4f58
Stobbs, Iain J.
bd12fa30-0bdd-4d15-912c-b47de14e260c
Barriga, Fernando J.A.S.
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Bialas, Jörg
daf98abb-12a2-4723-a777-30482f7ca4b3
Dannowski, Anke
0c7235f1-4a9c-4c71-a624-99593d8b3def
Vardy, Mark E.
ac2a7840-ee6e-4f83-a411-7a720155c97e
North, Laurence J.
9dc2779f-0a6f-4619-8473-7f2eea6a83fc
Yeo, Isobel A.L.M.
62d8f65e-f259-44ee-9a02-77b54ee27a95
Lusty, Paul A.J.
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Petersen, Sven
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Murton, Bramley J., Lehrmann, Berit, Dutrieux, Adeline M., Martins, Sofia, de la Iglesia, Alba Gil, Stobbs, Iain J., Barriga, Fernando J.A.S., Bialas, Jörg, Dannowski, Anke, Vardy, Mark E., North, Laurence J., Yeo, Isobel A.L.M., Lusty, Paul A.J. and Petersen, Sven (2019) Geological fate of seafloor massive sulphides at the TAG hydrothermal field (Mid-Atlantic Ridge). Ore Geology Reviews, 107, 903-925. (doi:10.1016/j.oregeorev.2019.03.005).

Record type: Review

Abstract

Deep-sea mineral deposits potentially represent vast metal resources that could make a major contribution to future global raw material supply. Increasing demand for these metals, many of which are required to enable a low-carbon and high-technology society and to relieve pressure on land-based resources, may result in deep sea mining within the next decade. Seafloor massive sulphide (SMS) deposits, containing abundant copper, zinc, gold and silver, have been the subject of recent and ongoing commercial interest. Although many seafloor hydrothermally systems have been studied, inactive SMS deposits are likely more accessible to future mining and far more abundant, but are often obscured by pelagic sediment and hence difficult to locate. Furthermore, SMS deposits are three dimensional. Yet, to date, very few have been explored or sampled below the seafloor. Here, we describe the most comprehensive study to date of hydrothermally extinct seafloor massive sulphide (eSMS) deposits formed at a slow spreading ridge. Our approach involved two research cruises in the summer of 2016 to the Trans-Atlantic Geotraverse (TAG) hydrothermal field at 26°N on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. These expeditions mapped a number of hydrothermally extinct SMS deposits using an autonomous underwater vehicle and remotely operated vehicle, acquired a combination of geophysical data including sub-seafloor seismic reflection and refraction data from 25 ocean bottom instruments, and recovered core using a robotic lander-type seafloor drilling rig. Together, these results that have allowed us to construct a new generic model for extinct seafloor massive sulphide deposits indicate the presence of up to five times more massive sulphide at and below the seafloor than was previously thought.

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Accepted/In Press date: 6 March 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 22 March 2019
Published date: 1 April 2019
Keywords: High-resolution mapping, Seafloor drilling, Seafloor massive sulphide, Seismic imaging

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 430077
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/430077
ISSN: 0169-1368
PURE UUID: 55e07e31-cfe2-4db7-be80-404819f8f4bf

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Date deposited: 11 Apr 2019 16:30
Last modified: 09 Dec 2019 17:38

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Contributors

Author: Bramley J. Murton
Author: Berit Lehrmann
Author: Sofia Martins
Author: Alba Gil de la Iglesia
Author: Iain J. Stobbs
Author: Fernando J.A.S. Barriga
Author: Jörg Bialas
Author: Anke Dannowski
Author: Mark E. Vardy
Author: Laurence J. North
Author: Isobel A.L.M. Yeo
Author: Paul A.J. Lusty
Author: Sven Petersen

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