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Structural control, evolution, and accumulation rates of massive sulfides in the TAG hydrothermal field

Structural control, evolution, and accumulation rates of massive sulfides in the TAG hydrothermal field
Structural control, evolution, and accumulation rates of massive sulfides in the TAG hydrothermal field
The Trans‐Atlantic Geotraverse (TAG) hydrothermal field on the Mid‐Atlantic Ridge is one of the best‐studied hydrothermal systems to date. However, high‐resolution bathymetric data obtained in 2016 by an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) reveal new information about the distribution of active and inactive hydrothermal deposits, and their relation to structural features. The discovery of previously undocumented inactive vent sites contributes to a better understanding of the accumulation rates and the resource potential of seafloor massive sulfide deposits at slow‐spreading ridges. The interpretation of ship‐based and high‐resolution AUV‐based data sets allowed for the determination of the main tectonic stress regimes that have a first‐order control on the location and distribution of past and present hydrothermal activity. The data reveal the importance of cross‐cutting lineament populations and temporal variations in the prevalent stress regime. A dozen sulfide mounds contribute to a substantial accumulation of hydrothermal material (~29 Mt). The accumulation rate of ~1,500 t/yr is comparable to those of other modern seafloor vent fields. However, our observations suggest that the TAG segment is different from many other slow‐spreading ridge segments in its tectonic complexity, which confines sulfide formation into a relatively small area and is responsible for the longevity of the hydrothermal system and substantial mineral accumulation. The inactive and weakly active mounds contain almost 10 times the amount of material as the active high‐temperature mound, providing an important indication of the global resource potential for inactive seafloor massive sulfide deposits.
AUV mapping, TAG hydrothermal field, seafloor massive sulfides, structural control
1525-2027
Graber, Sebastian
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Petersen, Sven
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Yeo, Isobel
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Szitkar, Florent
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Klischies, Meike
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Jamieson, John
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Hannington, Mark
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Rothenbeck, Marcel
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Wenzlaff, Emanuel
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Augustin, Nico
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Stobbs, Iain
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Graber, Sebastian
05b717db-e249-4ef8-8478-0dc25a51a47e
Petersen, Sven
875014f4-eace-4bed-b9f4-44f75757c678
Yeo, Isobel
62d8f65e-f259-44ee-9a02-77b54ee27a95
Szitkar, Florent
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Klischies, Meike
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Jamieson, John
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Hannington, Mark
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Rothenbeck, Marcel
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Wenzlaff, Emanuel
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Augustin, Nico
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Stobbs, Iain
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Graber, Sebastian, Petersen, Sven, Yeo, Isobel, Szitkar, Florent, Klischies, Meike, Jamieson, John, Hannington, Mark, Rothenbeck, Marcel, Wenzlaff, Emanuel, Augustin, Nico and Stobbs, Iain (2020) Structural control, evolution, and accumulation rates of massive sulfides in the TAG hydrothermal field. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 21 (9), [e2020GC009185]. (doi:10.1029/2020GC009185).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The Trans‐Atlantic Geotraverse (TAG) hydrothermal field on the Mid‐Atlantic Ridge is one of the best‐studied hydrothermal systems to date. However, high‐resolution bathymetric data obtained in 2016 by an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) reveal new information about the distribution of active and inactive hydrothermal deposits, and their relation to structural features. The discovery of previously undocumented inactive vent sites contributes to a better understanding of the accumulation rates and the resource potential of seafloor massive sulfide deposits at slow‐spreading ridges. The interpretation of ship‐based and high‐resolution AUV‐based data sets allowed for the determination of the main tectonic stress regimes that have a first‐order control on the location and distribution of past and present hydrothermal activity. The data reveal the importance of cross‐cutting lineament populations and temporal variations in the prevalent stress regime. A dozen sulfide mounds contribute to a substantial accumulation of hydrothermal material (~29 Mt). The accumulation rate of ~1,500 t/yr is comparable to those of other modern seafloor vent fields. However, our observations suggest that the TAG segment is different from many other slow‐spreading ridge segments in its tectonic complexity, which confines sulfide formation into a relatively small area and is responsible for the longevity of the hydrothermal system and substantial mineral accumulation. The inactive and weakly active mounds contain almost 10 times the amount of material as the active high‐temperature mound, providing an important indication of the global resource potential for inactive seafloor massive sulfide deposits.

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2020GC009185 - Version of Record
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Accepted/In Press date: 17 August 2020
Published date: 2 September 2020
Additional Information: Funding Information: This study is based on data collected during research cruise M127, which was part of the EU-funded project ?Blue mining: Breakthrough Solutions for the Sustainable Deep Sea Mining Value Chain? (Grant 604500). We would like to thank the crew of the RV Meteor and the GEOMAR AUV team for their hard work and professionalism, which enabled us to collect all data necessary for this study. We also thank all members of the scientific team who participated in the collection and processing of the data. Further, we would also like to thank the reviewer William Chadwick and an additional anonymous reviewer for their valuable and thoughtful comments, which helped to improve the manuscript. J. W. J. acknowledges funding from the Canada Research Chair Program. Publisher Copyright: © 2020. The Authors.
Keywords: AUV mapping, TAG hydrothermal field, seafloor massive sulfides, structural control

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 444817
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/444817
ISSN: 1525-2027
PURE UUID: 5a515852-e10a-47ff-a805-702ce5e8c7e6

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Date deposited: 05 Nov 2020 17:33
Last modified: 01 Dec 2022 17:46

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Contributors

Author: Sebastian Graber
Author: Sven Petersen
Author: Isobel Yeo
Author: Florent Szitkar
Author: Meike Klischies
Author: John Jamieson
Author: Mark Hannington
Author: Marcel Rothenbeck
Author: Emanuel Wenzlaff
Author: Nico Augustin
Author: Iain Stobbs

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