Parnell-Turner Ross

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  • Article
    Oceanic detachment faults generate compression in extension
    (Geological Society of America, 2017-08) Parnell-Turner, Ross ; Sohn, Robert A. ; Peirce, Christine ; Reston, Tim J. ; MacLeod, Christopher J. ; Searle, Roger C. ; Simão, Nuno Mendes
    In extensional geologic systems such as mid-ocean ridges, deformation is typically accommodated by slip on normal faults, where material is pulled apart under tension and stress is released by rupture during earthquakes and magmatic accretion. However, at slowly spreading mid-ocean ridges where the tectonic plates move apart at rates <80 km m.y.–1, these normal faults may roll over to form long-lived, low-angled detachments that exhume mantle rocks and form corrugated domes on the seabed. Here we present the results of a local micro-earthquake study over an active detachment at 13°20′N on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge to show that these features can give rise to reverse-faulting earthquakes in response to plate bending. During a 6 month survey period, we observed a remarkably high rate of seismic activity, with >244,000 events detected along 25 km of the ridge axis, to depths of ∼10 km below seafloor. Surprisingly, the majority of these were reverse-faulting events. Restricted to depths of 3–7 km below seafloor, these reverse events delineate a band of intense compressional seismicity located adjacent to a zone of deeper extensional events. This deformation pattern is consistent with flexural models of plate bending during lithospheric accretion. Our results indicate that the lower portion of the detachment footwall experiences compressive stresses and deforms internally as the fault rolls over to low angles before emerging at the seafloor. These compressive stresses trigger reverse faulting even though the detachment itself is an extensional system.
  • Article
    Discovery of active off-axis hydrothermal vents at 9° 54’N East Pacific Rise
    (National Academy of Sciences, 2022-07-21) McDermott, Jill M. ; Parnell-Turner, Ross ; Barreyre, Thibaut ; Herrera, Santiago ; Downing, Connor C. ; Pittoors, Nicole C. ; Pehr, Kelden ; Vohsen, Samuel A. ; Dowd, William S. ; Wu, Jyun-Nai ; Marjanovic, Milena ; Fornari, Daniel J.
    Comprehensive knowledge of the distribution of active hydrothermal vent fields along midocean ridges is essential to understanding global chemical and heat fluxes and endemic faunal distributions. However, current knowledge is biased by a historical preference for on-axis surveys. A scarcity of high-resolution bathymetric surveys in off-axis regions limits vent identification, which implies that the number of vents may be underestimated. Here, we present the discovery of an active, high-temperature, off-axis hydrothermal field on a fast-spreading ridge. The vent field is located 750 m east of the East Pacific Rise axis and ∼7 km north of on-axis vents at 9° 50′N, which are situated in a 50- to 100-m-wide trough. This site is currently the largest vent field known on the East Pacific Rise between 9 and 10° N. Its proximity to a normal fault suggests that hydrothermal fluid pathways are tectonically controlled. Geochemical evidence reveals deep fluid circulation to depths only 160 m above the axial magma lens. Relative to on-axis vents at 9° 50′N, these off-axis fluids attain higher temperatures and pressures. This tectonically controlled vent field may therefore exhibit greater stability in fluid composition, in contrast to more dynamic, dike-controlled, on-axis vents. The location of this site indicates that high-temperature convective circulation cells extend to greater distances off axis than previously realized. Thorough high-resolution mapping is necessary to understand the distribution, frequency, and physical controls on active off-axis vent fields so that their contribution to global heat and chemical fluxes and role in metacommunity dynamics can be determined.
  • Preprint
    Depth-varying seismogenesis on an oceanic detachment fault at 13°20'N on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge
    ( 2017-08-31) Craig, Timothy J. ; Parnell-Turner, Ross
    Extension at slow- and intermediate-spreading mid-ocean ridges is commonly accommodated through slip on long-lived faults called oceanic detachments. These curved, convex-upward faults consist of a steeply-dipping section thought to be rooted in the lower crust or upper mantle which rotates to progressively shallower dip-angles at shallower depths. The commonly-observed result is a domed, subhorizontal oceanic core complex at the seabed. Although it is accepted that detachment faults can accumulate kilometre-scale offsets over millions of years, the mechanism of slip, and their capacity to sustain the shear stresses necessary to produce large earthquakes, remains debated. Here we present a comprehensive seismological study of an active oceanic detachment fault system on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge near 13°20'N, combining the results from a local ocean-bottom seismograph deployment with waveform inversion of a series of larger teleseismically-observed earthquakes. The unique coincidence of these two datasets provides a comprehensive definition of rupture on the fault, from the uppermost mantle to the seabed. Our results demonstrate that although slip on the deep, steeply-dipping portion of detachment faults is accommodated by failure in numerous microearthquakes, the shallow, gently-dipping section of the fault within the upper few kilometres is relatively strong, and is capable of producing large-magnitude earthquakes. This result brings into question the current paradigm that the shallow sections of oceanic detachment faults are dominated by low-friction mineralogies and therefore slip aseismically, but is consistent with observations from continental detachment faults. Slip on the shallow portion of active detachment faults at relatively low angles may therefore account for many more large-magnitude earthquakes at mid-ocean ridges than previously thought, and suggests that the lithospheric strength at slow-spreading mid-ocean ridges may be concentrated at shallow depths.
  • Preprint
  • Article
    Development and evolution of detachment faulting along 50 km of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge near 16.5°N
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2014-12-05) Smith, Deborah K. ; Schouten, Hans A. ; Dick, Henry J. B. ; Cann, Johnson R. ; Salters, Vincent J. M. ; Marschall, Horst R. ; Ji, Fuwu ; Yoerger, Dana R. ; Sanfilippo, Alessio ; Parnell-Turner, Ross ; Palmiotto, Camilla ; Zheleznov, Alexei ; Bai, Hailong ; Junkin, Will ; Urann, Ben ; Dick, Spencer ; Sulanowska, Margaret ; Lemmond, Peter ; Curry, Scott
    A multifaceted study of the slow spreading Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) at 16.5°N provides new insights into detachment faulting and its evolution through time. The survey included regional multibeam bathymetry mapping, high-resolution mapping using AUV Sentry, seafloor imaging using the TowCam system, and an extensive rock-dredging program. At different times, detachment faulting was active along ∼50 km of the western flank of the study area, and may have dominated spreading on that flank for the last 5 Ma. Detachment morphologies vary and include a classic corrugated massif, noncorrugated massifs, and back-tilted ridges marking detachment breakaways. High-resolution Sentry data reveal a new detachment morphology; a low-angle, irregular surface in the regional bathymetry is shown to be a finely corrugated detachment surface (corrugation wavelength of only tens of meters and relief of just a few meters). Multiscale corrugations are observed 2–3 km from the detachment breakaway suggesting that they formed in the brittle layer, perhaps by anastomosing faults. The thin wedge of hanging wall lavas that covers a low-angle (6°) detachment footwall near its termination are intensely faulted and fissured; this deformation may be enhanced by the low angle of the emerging footwall. Active detachment faulting currently is limited to the western side of the rift valley. Nonetheless, detachment fault morphologies also are present over a large portion of the eastern flank on crust >2 Ma, indicating that within the last 5 Ma parts of the ridge axis have experienced periods of two-sided detachment faulting.
  • Article
    Tectonic structure of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge near 16°30′N
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2016-10-22) Parnell-Turner, Ross ; Schouten, Hans A. ; Smith, Deborah K.
    The 16°30'N area of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge represents an area of present-day detachment faulting. Here we present shipboard bathymetric, magnetic and gravity data acquired up to 65 km from the ridge axis that reveal a varied tectonic history of this region. Magnetic data are used to calculate spreading rates and examine spreading rate variability along and across the axis. Bathymetric and gravity data are used to infer the crustal structure. A central magnetic anomaly 40% narrower than expected is observed along much of the study area. Misalignment between modern-day spreading center and magnetic anomalies indicates tectonic reorganization of the axis within the past 780 ka. Observed magnetic anomalies show a pattern of anomalous skewness consistent with rotation of magnetic vectors probably associated with detachment faulting. Relatively thin crust north of a small (∼7 km) nontransform offset coincides with a weakly magmatic spreading axis. In contrast, to the south a robust axial volcanic ridge is underlain by thicker crust. Variations in crustal structure perpendicular to the axis occur over tens of kilometers, indicating processes which occur over timescales of 1–2 Ma.
  • Article
    The evolution of seafloor spreading behind the tip of the westward propagating Cocos-Nazca spreading center
    (American Geophysical Union, 2020-05-11) Smith, Deborah K. ; Schouten, Hans A. ; Parnell-Turner, Ross ; Klein, Emily M. ; Cann, Johnson R. ; Dunham, Charles ; Alodia, Gabriella ; Blasco, Iker ; Wernette, Benjamin ; Zawadzki, Dominik ; Latypova, Elvira ; Afshar, Sara ; Curry, Scott
    At the Galapagos triple junction in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, the Cocos‐Nazca spreading center does not meet the East Pacific Rise (EPR) but, instead, rifts into 0.4 Myr‐old lithosphere on the EPR flank. Westward propagation of Cocos‐Nazca spreading forms the V‐shaped Galapagos gore. Since ~1.4 Ma, opening at the active gore tip has been within the Cocos‐Galapagos microplate spreading regime. In this paper, bathymetry, magnetic, and gravity data collected over the first 400 km east of the gore tip are used to examine rifting of young lithosphere and transition to magmatic spreading segments. From inception, the axis shows structural segmentation consisting of rifted basins whose bounding faults eventually mark the gore edges. Rifting progresses to magmatic spreading over the first three segments (s1–s3), which open between Cocos‐Galapagos microplate at the presently slow rates of ~19–29 mm/year. Segments s4–s9 originated in the faster‐spreading (~48 mm/year) Cocos‐Nazca regime, and well‐defined magnetic anomalies and abyssal hill fabric close to the gore edges show the transition to full magmatic spreading was more rapid than at present time. Magnetic lineations show a 20% increase in the Cocos‐Nazca spreading rate after 1.1 Ma. The near‐axis Mantle Bouguer gravity anomaly decreases eastward and becomes more circular, suggesting mantle upwelling, increasing temperatures, and perhaps progression to a developed melt supply beneath segments. Westward propagation of individual Cocos‐Nazca segments is common with rates ranging between 12 and 54 mm/year. Segment lengths and lateral offsets between segments increase, in general, with distance from the tip of the gore.
  • Article
    Extent and volume of lava flows erupted at 9°50’N, East Pacific Rise in 2005–2006 from autonomous underwater vehicle surveys
    (American Geophysical Union, 2022-01-28) Wu, Jyun-Nai ; Parnell-Turner, Ross ; Fornari, Daniel J. ; Kurras, Gregory ; Berrios-Rivera, Natalia ; Barreyre, Thibaut ; McDermott, Jill M.
    Seafloor volcanic eruptions are difficult to directly observe due to lengthy eruption cycles and the remote location of mid-ocean ridges. Volcanic eruptions in 2005–2006 at 9°50′N on the East Pacific Rise have been well documented, but the lava volume and flow extent remain uncertain because of the limited near-bottom bathymetric data. We present near-bottom data collected during 19 autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Sentry dives at 9°50′N in 2018, 2019, and 2021. The resulting 1 m-resolution bathymetric grid and 20 cm-resolution sidescan sonar images cover 115 km2, and span the entire area of the 2005–2006 eruptions, including an 8 km2 pre-eruption survey collected with AUV ABE in 2001. Pre- and post-eruption surveys, combined with sidescan sonar images and seismo-acoustic impulsive events recorded during the eruptions, are used to quantify the lava flow extent and to estimate changes in seafloor depth caused by lava emplacement. During the 2005–2006 eruptions, lava flowed up to ∼3 km away from the axial summit trough, covering an area of ∼20.8 km2; ∼50% larger than previously thought. Where pre- and post-eruption surveys overlap, individual flow lobes can be resolved, confirming that lava thickness varies from ∼1 to 10 m, and increases with distance from eruptive fissures. The resulting lava volume estimate indicates that ∼57% of the melt extracted from the axial melt lens probably remained in the subsurface as dikes. These observations provide insights into recharge cycles in the subsurface magma system, and are a baseline for studying future eruptions at the 9°50′N area.
  • Article
    Relative timing of off‐axis volcanism from sediment thickness estimates on the 8°20’N seamount chain, East Pacific Rise
    (American Geophysical Union, 2022-08-06) Fabbrizzi, Andrea ; Parnell-Turner, Ross ; Gregg, Patricia M. ; Fornari, Daniel J. ; Perfit, Michael R. ; Wanless, V. Dorsey ; Anderson, Molly
    Volcanic seamount chains on the flanks of mid-ocean ridges record variability in magmatic processes associated with mantle melting over several millions of years. However, the relative timing of magmatism on individual seamounts along a chain can be difficult to estimate without in situ sampling and is further hampered by Ar40/Ar39 dating limitations. The 8°20’N seamount chain extends ∼170 km west from the fast-spreading East Pacific Rise (EPR), north of and parallel to the western Siqueiros fracture zone. Here, we use multibeam bathymetric data to investigate relationships between abyssal hill formation and seamount volcanism, transform fault slip, and tectonic rotation. Near-bottom compressed high-intensity radiated pulse, bathymetric, and sidescan sonar data collected with the autonomous underwater vehicle Sentry are used to test the hypothesis that seamount volcanism is age-progressive along the seamount chain. Although sediment on seamount flanks is likely to be reworked by gravitational mass-wasting and current activity, bathymetric relief and Sentry vehicle heading analysis suggest that sedimentary accumulations on seamount summits are likely to be relatively pristine. Sediment thickness on the seamounts' summits does not increase linearly with nominal crustal age, as would be predicted if seamounts were constructed proximal to the EPR axis and then aged as the lithosphere cooled and subsided away from the ridge. The thickest sediments are found at the center of the chain, implying the most ancient volcanism there, rather than on seamounts furthest from the EPR. The nonlinear sediment thickness along the 8°20’N seamounts suggests that volcanism can persist off-axis for several million years.
  • Article
    Architecture of North Atlantic contourite drifts modified by transient circulation of the Icelandic mantle plume
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2015-10-15) Parnell-Turner, Ross ; White, Nicholas J. ; McCave, I. Nick ; Henstock, Timothy J. ; Murton, Bramley J. ; Jones, Stephen M.
    Overflow of Northern Component Water, the precursor of North Atlantic Deep Water, appears to have varied during Neogene times. It has been suggested that this variation is moderated by transient behavior of the Icelandic mantle plume, which has influenced North Atlantic bathymetry through time. Thus pathways and intensities of bottom currents that control deposition of contourite drifts could be affected by mantle processes. Here, we present regional seismic reflection profiles that cross sedimentary accumulations (Björn, Gardar, Eirik, and Hatton Drifts). Prominent reflections were mapped and calibrated using a combination of boreholes and legacy seismic profiles. Interpreted seismic profiles were used to reconstruct solid sedimentation rates. Björn Drift began to accumulate in late Miocene times. Its average sedimentation rate decreased at ∼2.5 Ma and increased again at ∼0.75 Ma. In contrast, Eirik Drift started to accumulate in early Miocene times. Its average sedimentation rate increased at ∼5.5 Ma and decreased at ∼2.2 Ma. In both cases, there is a good correlation between sedimentation rates, inferred Northern Component Water overflow, and the variation of Icelandic plume temperature independently obtained from the geometry of diachronous V-shaped ridges. Between 5.5 and 2.5 Ma, the plume cooled, which probably caused subsidence of the Greenland-Iceland-Scotland Ridge, allowing drift accumulation to increase. When the plume became hotter at 2.5 Ma, drift accumulation rate fell. We infer that deep-water current strength is modulated by fluctuating dynamic support of the Greenland-Scotland Ridge. Our results highlight the potential link between mantle convective processes and ocean circulation.
  • Article
    Seismicity trends and detachment fault structure at 13 degrees N, Mid-Atlantic Ridge
    (Geological Society of America, 2020-11-04) Parnell-Turner, Ross ; Sohn, Robert A. ; Peirce, Christine ; Reston, Tim J. ; MacLeod, Christopher J. ; Searle, Roger C. ; Simão, Nuno Mendes
    At slow-spreading ridges, plate separation is commonly partly accommodated by slip on long-lived detachment faults, exposing upper mantle and lower crustal rocks on the seafloor. However, the mechanics of this process, the subsurface structure, and the interaction of these faults remain largely unknown. We report the results of a network of 56 ocean-bottom seismographs (OBSs), deployed in 2016 at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge near 13°N, that provided dense spatial coverage of two adjacent detachment faults and the intervening ridge axis. Although both detachments exhibited high levels of seismicity, they are separated by an ∼8-km-wide aseismic zone, indicating that they are mechanically decoupled. A linear band of seismic activity, possibly indicating magmatism, crosscuts the 13°30′N domed detachment surface, confirming previous evidence for fault abandonment. Farther south, where the 2016 OBS network spatially overlapped with a similar survey done in 2014, significant changes in the patterns of seismicity between these surveys are observed. These changes suggest that oceanic detachments undergo previously unobserved cycles of stress accumulation and release as plate spreading is accommodated.
  • Article
    Causes and consequences of diachronous V-shaped ridges in the North Atlantic Ocean
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2017-11-14) Parnell-Turner, Ross ; White, Nicky ; Henstock, Timothy J. ; Jones, Stephen M. ; Maclennan, John ; Murton, Bramley J.
    In the North Atlantic Ocean, the geometry of diachronous V-shaped features that straddle the Reykjanes Ridge is often attributed to thermal pulses which advect away from the center of the Iceland plume. Recently, two alternative hypotheses have been proposed: rift propagation and buoyant mantle upwelling. Here we evaluate these different proposals using basin-wide geophysical and geochemical observations. The centerpiece of our analysis is a pair of seismic reflection profiles oriented parallel to flow lines that span the North Atlantic Ocean. V-shaped ridges and troughs are mapped on both Neogene and Paleogene oceanic crust, enabling a detailed chronology of activity to be established for the last 50 million years. Estimates of the cumulative horizontal displacement across normal faults help to discriminate between brittle and magmatic modes of plate separation, suggesting that crustal architecture is sensitive to the changing planform of the plume. Water-loaded residual depth measurements are used to estimate crustal thickness and to infer mantle potential temperature which varies by ±25°C on timescales of 3–8 Ma. This variation is consistent with the range of temperatures inferred from geochemical modeling of dredged basaltic rocks along the ridge axis itself, from changes in Neogene deep-water circulation, and from the regional record of episodic Cenozoic magmatism. We conclude that radial propagation of transient thermal anomalies within an asthenospheric channel that is 150 ± 50 km thick best accounts for the available geophysical and geochemical observations.
  • Article
    Hydroacoustic monitoring of seafloor spreading and transform faulting in the equatorial Atlantic Ocean
    (American Geophysical Union, 2022-06-26) Parnell-Turner, Ross ; Smith, Deborah K. ; Dziak, Robert P.
    Seismicity along mid-ocean ridges and oceanic transform faults provides insights into the processes of crustal accretion and strike-slip deformation. In the equatorial Atlantic ocean, the slow-spreading Mid-Atlantic Ridge is offset by some of the longest-offset transform faults on Earth, which remain relatively poorly understood due to its remote location far from land-based teleseismic receivers. A catalog of T-phase events detected by an array of 10 autonomous hydrophones deployed between 2011 and 2015, extending from 20°N to 10°S is presented. The final catalog of 6,843 events has a magnitude of completeness of 3.3, compared to 4.4 for the International Seismic Center teleseismic catalog covering the same region, and allows investigation of the dual processes of crustal accretion and transform fault slip. The seismicity rate observed at asymmetric spreading segments (those hosting detachment faults) is significantly higher than that of symmetric spreading centers, and 74% of known hydrothermal vents along the equatorial Mid-Atlantic Ridge occur on asymmetric spreading segments. Aseismic patches are present on nearly all equatorial Atlantic transform faults, including on the Romanche transform where regional rotation and transpression could explain both bathymetric uplift and reduction in seismic activity. The observed patterns in seismicity provide insight into the thermal and mechanical structure of the ridge axis and associated transform faults, and potentially provide a method for investigating the distribution of hydrothermal vent systems.
  • Article
    Sedimentation rates test models of oceanic detachment faulting
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2014-10-23) Parnell-Turner, Ross ; Cann, Johnson R. ; Smith, Deborah K. ; Schouten, Hans A. ; Yoerger, Dana R. ; Palmiotto, Camilla ; Zheleznov, Alexei ; Bai, Hailong
    Long-lived detachment faults play an important role in the construction of new oceanic crust at slow-spreading mid-oceanic ridges. Although the corrugated surfaces of exposed low-angle faults demonstrate past slip, it is difficult to determine whether a given fault is currently active. If inactive, it is unclear when slip ceased. This judgment is crucial for tectonic reconstructions where detachment faults are present, and for models of plate spreading. We quantify variation in sediment thickness over two corrugated surfaces near 16.5°N at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge using near-bottom Compressed High Intensity Radar Pulse (CHIRP) data. We show that the distribution of sediment and tectonic features at one detachment fault is consistent with slip occurring today. In contrast, another corrugated surface 20 km to the south shows a sediment distribution suggesting that slip ceased ~150,000 years ago. Data presented here provide new evidence for active detachment faulting, and suggest along-axis variations in fault activity occur over tens of kilometers.
  • Article
    Recycled arc mantle recovered from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge
    (Nature Research, 2020-08-04) Urann, Benjamin M. ; Dick, Henry J. B. ; Parnell-Turner, Ross ; Casey, John F.
    Plate tectonics and mantle dynamics necessitate mantle recycling throughout Earth’s history, yet direct geochemical evidence for mantle reprocessing remains elusive. Here we present evidence of recycled supra-subduction zone mantle wedge peridotite dredged from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge near 16°30′N. Peridotite trace-element characteristics are inconsistent with fractional anhydrous melting typically associated with a mid-ocean ridge setting. Instead, the samples are best explained by hydrous flux melting which changed the melting reactions such that clinopyroxene was not exhausted at high degrees of melting and was retained in the residuum. Based on along-axis ridge depth variations, this buoyant refractory arc mantle is likely compensated at depth by denser, likely garnet-rich, lithologies within the mantle column. Our results suggest that highly refractory arc mantle relicts are entrained in the upper mantle and may constitute >60% of the upper mantle by volume. These highly refractory mantle domains, which contribute little to mantle melting, are under-represented in compilations of mantle composition that rely on inverted basalt compositions alone.
  • Article
    The final stages of slip and volcanism on an oceanic detachment fault at 13°48′N, Mid‐Atlantic Ridge
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2018-09-14) Parnell-Turner, Ross ; Mittelstaedt, Eric ; Kurz, Mark D. ; Jones, Meghan R. ; Soule, Samuel A. ; Klein, Frieder ; Wanless, V. Dorsey ; Fornari, Daniel J.
    While processes associated with initiation and maintenance of oceanic detachment faults are becoming better constrained, much less is known about the tectonic and magmatic conditions that lead to fault abandonment. Here we present results from near‐bottom investigations using the submersible Alvin and autonomous underwater vehicle Sentry at a recently extinct detachment fault near 13°48′N, Mid‐Atlantic Ridge, that allow documentation of the final stages of fault activity and magmatism. Seafloor imagery, sampling, and near‐bottom magnetic data show that the detachment footwall is intersected by an ~850 m‐wide volcanic outcrop including pillow lavas. Saturation pressures in these vesicular basalts, based on dissolved H2O and CO2, are less than their collection pressures, which could be explained by eruption at a shallower level than their present depth. Sub‐bottom profiles reveal that sediment thickness, a loose proxy for seafloor age, is ~2 m greater on top of the volcanic terrain than on the footwall adjacent to the hanging‐wall cutoff. This difference could be explained by current‐driven erosion in the axial valley or by continued slip after volcanic emplacement, on either a newly formed or pre‐existing fault. Since current speeds near the footwall are unlikely to be sufficient to cause significant erosion, we favor the hypothesis that detachment slip continued after the episode of magmatism, consistent with growing evidence that oceanic detachments can continue to slip despite hosting magmatic intrusions.
  • Article
    Tracking crustal permeability and hydrothermal response during seafloor eruptions at the East Pacific Rise, 9°50’N
    (American Geophysical Union, 2022-01-24) Barreyre, Thibaut ; Parnell-Turner, Ross ; Wu, Jyun-Nai ; Fornari, Daniel J.
    Permeability controls energy and matter fluxes in deep-sea hydrothermal systems fueling a 'deep biosphere' of microorganisms. Here, we indirectly measure changes in sub-seafloor crustal permeability, based on the tidal response of high-temperature hydrothermal vents at the East Pacific Rise 9°50’N preceding the last phase of volcanic eruptions during 2005–2006. Ten months before the last phase of the eruptions, permeability decreased, first rapidly, and then steadily as the stress built up, until hydrothermal flow stopped altogether ∼2 weeks prior to the January 2006 eruption phase. This trend was interrupted by abrupt permeability increases, attributable to dike injection during last phase of the eruptions, which released crustal stress, allowing hydrothermal flow to resume. These observations and models suggest that abrupt changes in crustal permeability caused by magmatic intrusion and volcanic eruption can control first-order hydrothermal circulation processes. This methodology has the potential to aid eruption forecasting along the global mid-ocean ridge network.