Heat flow variations on a slowly accreting ridge : constraints on the hydrothermal and conductive cooling for the Lucky Strike segment (Mid-Atlantic Ridge, 37°N)
Escartin, Javier E.
von Herzen, Richard P.
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We report 157 closely spaced heat flow measurements along the Lucky Strike segment in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) for ages of the ocean floor between 0 and 11 Ma. On the eastern flank of a volcanic plateau delimiting off-axis and axial domains, the magnitude of heat flow either conforms to the predictions of conductive lithospheric cooling models or is affected by localized anomalies. On the western flank it is uniformly lower than conductive model predictions. We interpret the observed patterns of heat flow by lateral fluid circulation in a highly permeable oceanic basement. The circulation geometries are probably 3-D rather than 2-D and are determined by the configuration of the basement/sediment interface and the distribution of effectively unsedimented seamounts where water recharge can occur. Two major hydrothermal circulation systems can possibly explain the observations off-axis: the first would involve lateral pore water flow from west to east, and the second would have a reverse flow direction. The wavelengths and magnitudes of heat flow anomalies require Darcy velocities of the order of 1–4 m/year, which are similar to those proposed for fast-accreted crust elsewhere. However, a large proportion of this MAR domain remains unaffected by hydrothermal cooling, which is a relatively unusual observation but confirms the validity of conductive thermal models for seafloor ages between 5 and 10 Ma. Closer to the ridge axis (<5 Myr old crust), water circulation affects the overall axial domain, as larger proportions of basement are exposed. As much as 80–90% of the heat flux from the axial domain may be transferred to the Lucky Strike vent field, in agreement with the estimated discharge.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2006. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems 7 (2006): Q07011, doi:10.1029/2005GC001178.
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