Sohn Robert A.

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Robert A.

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  • Article
    Tidal modulation of Sr/Ca ratios in a Pacific reef coral
    (American Geophysical Union, 2004-08-21) Cohen, Anne L. ; Sohn, Robert A.
    The strontium-to-calcium ratio (Sr/Ca) of reef coral skeleton is an important tool for reconstructing past sea surface temperatures (SSTs). However, the accuracy of paleoSSTs derived from fossil coral Sr/Ca is challenged by evidence that physiological processes influence skeletal chemistry. Here we show that water level variations from tidal forcing are correlated with changes in coral Sr/Ca that cannot be accounted for by changes in SST. Ion microprobe measurements of Sr/Ca ratios in a Pacific Porites lutea reveal high-frequency variations at periods of ~6, ~10, and ~25 days. The relationship between Sr/Ca and temperature on these short timescales does not follow trends observed at longer periods, indicating that an additional forcing is required to explain our observations. We demonstrate that Sr/Ca is correlated with both tidal water level variations and SST, and that their contributions to the Sr/Ca content of the skeleton vary as a function of period. We propose that water level influences Sr/Ca indirectly via modulation of photosynthetically-active radiation (PAR) that drives large changes in zooxanthellate photosynthesis.
  • Article
    Geological and thermal control of the hydrothermal system in northern Yellowstone Lake: inferences from high-resolution magnetic surveys
    (American Geophysical Union, 2020-07-27) Bouligand, Claire ; Tivey, Maurice A. ; Finn, Carol A. ; Morgan, Lisa A. ; Shanks, Wayne C. Pat, III ; Sohn, Robert A.
    A multiscale magnetic survey of the northern basin of Yellowstone Lake was undertaken in 2016 as part of the Hydrothermal Dynamics of Yellowstone Lake Project (HD‐YLAKE)—a broad research effort to characterize the cause‐and‐effect relationships between geologic and environmental processes and hydrothermal activity on the lake floor. The magnetic survey includes lake surface, regional aeromagnetic, and near‐bottom autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) data. The study reveals a strong contrast between the northeastern lake basin, characterized by a regional magnetic low punctuated by stronger local magnetic lows, many of which host hydrothermal vent activity, and the northwestern lake basin with higher‐amplitude magnetic anomalies and no obvious hydrothermal activity or punctuated magnetic lows. The boundary between these two regions is marked by a steep gradient in heat flow and magnetic values, likely reflecting a significant structure within the currently active ~20‐km‐long Eagle Bay‐Lake Hotel fault zone that may be related to the ~2.08‐Ma Huckleberry Ridge caldera rim. Modeling suggests that the broad northeastern magnetic low reflects both a shallower Curie isotherm and widespread hydrothermal activity that has demagnetized the rock. Along the western lake shoreline are sinuous‐shaped, high‐amplitude magnetic anomaly highs, interpreted as lava flow fronts of upper units of the West Thumb rhyolite. The AUV magnetic survey shows decreased magnetization at the periphery of the active Deep Hole hydrothermal vent. We postulate that lower magnetization in the outer zone results from enhanced hydrothermal alteration of rhyolite by hydrothermal condensates while the vapor‐dominated center of the vent is less altered.
  • 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
    Triggering and modulation of geyser eruptions in Yellowstone National Park by earthquakes, earth tides, and weather
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2014-03-05) Hurwitz, Shaul ; Sohn, Robert A. ; Luttrell, Karen M. ; Manga, Michael
    We analyze intervals between eruptions (IBEs) data acquired between 2001 and 2011 at Daisy and Old Faithful geysers in Yellowstone National Park. We focus our statistical analysis on the response of these geysers to stress perturbations from within the solid earth (earthquakes and earth tides) and from weather (air pressure and temperature, precipitation, and wind). We conclude that (1) the IBEs of these geysers are insensitive to periodic stresses induced by solid earth tides and barometric pressure variations; (2) Daisy (pool geyser) IBEs lengthen by evaporation and heat loss in response to large wind storms and cold air; and (3) Old Faithful (cone geyser) IBEs are not modulated by air temperature and pressure variations, wind, and precipitation, suggesting that the subsurface water column is decoupled from the atmosphere. Dynamic stress changes of 0.1−0.2 MPa resulting from the 2002 M-7.9 Denali, Alaska, earthquake surface waves caused a statistically significant shortening of Daisy geyser's IBEs. Stresses induced by other large global earthquakes during the study period were at least an order of magnitude smaller. In contrast, dynamic stresses of >0.5 MPa from three large regional earthquakes in 1959, 1975, and 1983 caused lengthening of Old Faithful's IBEs. We infer that most subannual geyser IBE variability is dominated by internal processes and interaction with other geysers. The results of this study provide quantitative bounds on the sensitivity of hydrothermal systems to external stress perturbations and have implications for studying the triggering and modulation of volcanic eruptions by external forces.
  • Article
    Microearthquake evidence for reaction-driven cracking within the Trans-Atlantic Geotraverse active hydrothermal deposit
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2014-03-19) Pontbriand, Claire W. ; Sohn, Robert A.
    We detected 32,078 very small, local microearthquakes (average ML = −1) during a 9 month deployment of five ocean bottom seismometers on the periphery of the Trans-Atlantic Geotraverse active mound. Seismicity rates were constant without any main shock-aftershock behavior at ~243 events per day at the beginning of the experiment, 128 events per day after an instrument failed, and 97 events per day at the end of the experiment when whale calls increased background noise levels. The microearthquake seismograms are characterized by durations of <1 s and most have single-phase P wave arrivals (i.e., no S arrivals). We accurately located 6207 of the earthquakes, with hypocenters clustered within a narrow depth interval from ~50 to 125 m below seafloor on the south and west flanks of the deposit. We model the microearthquakes as reaction-driven fracturing events caused by anhydrite deposition in the secondary circulation system of the hydrothermal mound and show that under reasonable modeling assumptions an average event represents a volume increase of 31–58 cm3, yielding an annual (seismogenic) anhydrite deposition rate of 27–51 m3.
  • Article
    Stochastic analysis of exit fluid temperature records from the active TAG hydrothermal mound (Mid-Atlantic Ridge, 26°N) : 2. Hidden Markov models of flow episodes
    (American Geophysical Union, 2007-09-12) Sohn, Robert A.
    I develop a stochastic signal model for episodic modes of variability in hydrothermal flow records using probabilistic functions of Markov processes (i.e., hidden Markov models, HMMs) and fit the model to exit fluid temperature time series data from diffuse flow sites on the active TAG hydrothermal mound. The flow states are modeled using Gamma densities to provide flexibility for application to a range of signal types. Between three and five flow states are needed to fit the diffuse flow temperature records from TAG, which correspond to models with between 10 and 28 degrees of freedom. The number of flow states required to fit a given record is related to the signal variance, with more variable records requiring a larger state space. HMMs thus provide an efficient signal model for episodic variability in hydrothermal flow records, suggesting that Markov processes may provide a means to generate stochastic subsurface flow models for deep-sea hydrothermal fields if the spatial flow correlations can be incorporated into a statistical framework. I also use the Viterbi algorithm to “decode” the time series data into best fitting state sequences, which can be used to classify the records into discrete flow episodes. This may provide an objective means to identify discrete events in a flow record if misclassification issues arising from nonepisodic variability (e.g., tidal forcing) can be addressed.
  • Article
    A general inversion for end-member ratios in binary mixing systems
    (American Geophysical Union, 2005-11-15) Sohn, Robert A.
    Binary mixing is one of the most common models used to explain variations in geochemical data. When the data being modeled are ratios of elements or isotopes, the mixtures follow hyperbolic trends with curvatures that depend on a cross-term representing the relative concentrations of the elements or isotopes under consideration in the mixing components. The inverse problem of estimating mixing components is difficult because of the cross-term in the hyperbolic equation, which requires the use of nonlinear methods to estimate the mixing parameters, and because the end-member ratio values are intrinsically underdetermined unless the mixing proportions of the samples are known a priori, which is not generally the case. I use maximum likelihood methods to address these issues and derive a general inversion for binary mixing model parameters from ratio-ratio data. I apply the method to synthetic test data and a global compilation of 230Th/232Th versus 87Sr/86Sr data from oceanic basalts and find that the concentration ratio parameter is well-constrained by the inversion while the end-member ratio estimates are strongly dependent on the initial guesses used to start the iterative solver, reflecting the underdetermined nature of the end-member positions on the mixing hyperbola. Monte Carlo methods that randomly perturb the initial guesses can be used to improve error estimates, and goodness-of-fit statistics can be used to assess the performance of the mixing model for explaining data variance.
  • Preprint
    Toward extraplanetary under-ice exploration : robotic steps in the Arctic
    ( 2009-01-12) Kunz, Clayton G. ; Murphy, Christopher A. ; Singh, Hanumant ; Pontbriand, Claire W. ; Sohn, Robert A. ; Singh, Sandipa ; Sato, Taichi ; Roman, Christopher N. ; Nakamura, Ko-ichi ; Jakuba, Michael V. ; Eustice, Ryan M. ; Camilli, Richard ; Bailey, John
    This paper describes the design and use of two new autonomous underwater vehicles, Jaguar and Puma, which were deployed in the summer of 2007 at sites at 85°N latitude in the ice-covered Arctic Ocean to search for hydrothermal vents. These robots are the first to be deployed and recovered through ice to the deep ocean (> 3500m) for scientific research. We examine the mechanical design, software architecture, navigation considerations, sensor suite and issues with deployment and recovery in the ice based on the missions they carried out. Successful recoveries of vehicles deployed under the ice requires two-way acoustic communication, flexible navigation strategies, redundant localization hardware, and software that can cope with several different kinds of failure. The ability to direct an AUV via the low bandwidth and intermittently functional acoustic channel, is of particular importance. Based on our experiences, we also discuss the applicability of the technology and operational approaches of this expedition to the exploration of Jupiter's ice-covered moon Europa.
  • Article
    Depth‐dependent permeability and heat output at basalt‐hosted hydrothermal systems across mid‐ocean ridge spreading rates
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2018-04-20) Barreyre, Thibaut ; Olive, Jean-Arthur ; Crone, Timothy J. ; Sohn, Robert A.
    The permeability of the oceanic crust exerts a primary influence on the vigor of hydrothermal circulation at mid‐ocean ridges, but it is a difficult to measure parameter that varies with time, space, and geological setting. Here we develop an analytical model for the poroelastic response of hydrothermal exit‐fluid velocities and temperatures to ocean tidal loading in a two‐layered medium to constrain the discharge zone permeability of each layer. The top layer, corresponding to extrusive lithologies (e.g., seismic layer 2A) overlies a lower permeability layer, corresponding to intrusive lithologies (e.g., layer 2B). We apply the model to three basalt‐hosted hydrothermal fields (i.e., Lucky Strike, Main Endeavour and 9°46′N L‐vent) for which the seismic stratigraphy is well‐established, and for which robust exit‐fluid temperature data are available. We find that the poroelastic response to tidal loading is primarily controlled by layer 2A permeability, which is about 3 orders of magnitude higher for the Lucky Strike site (∼10−10 m2) than the 9°46′N L‐vent site (∼10−13 m2). By contrast, layer 2B permeability does not exert a strong control on the poroelastic response to tidal loading, yet strongly modulates the heat output of hydrothermal discharge zones. Taking these constraints into account, we estimate a plausible range of layer 2B permeability between ∼10−15 m2 and an upper‐bound value of ∼10−14 (9°46′N L‐vent) to ∼10−12 m2 (Lucky Strike). These permeability structures reconcile the short‐term response and long‐term thermal output of hydrothermal sites, and provide new insights into the links between permeability and tectono‐magmatic processes along the global mid‐ocean ridge.
  • Article
    Gas Migration Episodes Observed During Peridotite Alteration in the Samail Ophiolite, Oman
    (American Geophysical Union, 2022-10-18) Aiken, John M. ; Sohn, Robert A. ; Renard, François ; Matter, Juerg ; Kelemen, Peter ; Jamtveit, Bjørn
    Serpentinization and carbonation of mantle rocks (peridotite alteration) are fundamentally important processes for a spectrum of geoscience topics, including arc volcanism, earthquake processes, chemosynthetic biological communities, and carbon sequestration. Data from a hydrophone array deployed in the Multi‐Borehole Observatory (MBO) of the Oman Drilling Project demonstrates that free gas generated by peridotite alteration and/or microbial activity migrates through the formation in discrete bursts of activity. We detected several, minutes‐long, swarms of gas discharge into Hole BA1B of the MBO over the course of a 9 month observation interval. The episodic nature of the migration events indicates that free gas accumulates in the permeable flow network, is pressurized, and discharges rapidly into the borehole when a critical pressure, likely associated with a capillary barrier at a flow constriction, is reached. Our observations reveal a dynamic mode of fluid migration during serpentinization, and highlight the important role that free gas can play in modulating pore pressure, fluid flow, and alteration kinetics during peridotite weathering.
  • Article
    Three-dimensional seismic structure of a Mid-Atlantic Ridge segment characterized by active detachment faulting (Trans-Atlantic Geotraverse, 25°55′N-26°20′N)
    (American Geophysical Union, 2012-11-02) Zhao, Minghui ; Canales, J. Pablo ; Sohn, Robert A.
    We use air gun shots recorded by ocean bottom seismometers (OBSs) to generate a three-dimensional (3D) P-wave tomographic velocity model of the Trans-Atlantic Geotraverse (TAG) segment of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and to search for evidence of reflections from a shallow crustal fault interface. Near-vertical reflections were observed in some of the seismic records from OBSs deployed within the active seismicity zone defined by microearthquake hypocenters. Forward modeling of synthetic seismograms indicates that these reflections are consistent with a fault interface dipping at a low angle toward the ridge axis. Our observations suggest that the fault zone may extend beneath the volcanic blocks forming the eastern valley wall. Our 3D tomographic results show that the across-axis structural asymmetry associated with detachment faulting extends at least 15 km to the east of the ridge axis, indicating that detachment faulting and uplifting of deep lithologies has been occurring at the TAG segment for at least the last ∼1.35 Myr. The velocity model contains a 5 km by 8 km velocity anomaly within the detachment footwall. This anomaly, which is present beneath the active TAG hydrothermal mound, is characterized by a velocity inversion at 1.5–2.0 km below seafloor underlain by reduced P-wave velocities (∼6.2–6.5 km/s compared to surrounding areas ∼7.0–7.2 km/s) extending down to 3.5 km below seafloor. The velocity anomaly likely results from some combination of thermal and/or hydrothermal processes, and in either case our results suggest that hydrothermal fluids circulate within the upper section of the detachment footwall beneath the active mound.
  • Article
    238U-Th-230-Ra-226-Pb-210-Po-210, Th-232-Ra-228, and U-235-Pa-231 constraints on the ages and petrogenesis of Vailulu'u and Malumalu Lavas, Samoa
    (American Geophysical Union, 2008-04-01) Sims, Kenneth W. W. ; Hart, Stanley R. ; Reagan, Mark K. ; Blusztajn, Jerzy S. ; Staudigel, Hubert ; Sohn, Robert A. ; Layne, Graham D. ; Ball, Lary A. ; Andrews, J. E.
    We report 238U-230Th-226Ra-210Pb-210Po, 232Th-228Ra and 235U-231Pa measurements for a suite of 14 geologically and geochemically well-characterized basaltic samples from the Samoan volcanoes Vailulu'u, Malumalu, and Savai'i. Maximum eruption ages based on the presence of parent-daughter disequilibria indicate that Vailulu'u is magmatically productive with young lavas (<8 Ka) resurfacing both its summit crater and lower flanks. 210Pb and 210Po measurements indicate that several flows have erupted within its summit crater in the past 100 years, with the newest observed flow being erupted in November of 2004. For lavas which have eruption ages that are demonstrably young, relative to the half-lives of 230Th, 231Pa, and 226Ra, we interpret their 238U -230Th, 235U-231Pa and 230Th - 226Ra disequilibria in terms of the magmatic processes occurring beneath the Samoan Islands. (230Th/238U) > 1 indicates that garnet is required as a residual phase in the magma sources for all these lavas. The large range of (238U/232Th) and (230Th/232Th) is attributed to long-term source variation. The Samoan basalts are all alkaline basalts and show significant 230Th and 231Pa excesses but limited variability, indicating that they have been derived by small but similar extents of melting. Their (230Th/238U), (231Pa/235U) and Sm/Nd fractionation are consistent with correlations among other ocean island basalt suites (particularly Hawaii) which show that (230Th/238U) and (231Pa/235U) of many OIBS can be explained by simple time-independent models. Interpretation of the 226Ra data requires time-dependent melting models. Both chromatographic porous flow and dynamic melting of a garnet peridotite source can adequately explain the combined U-Th-Ra and U-Pa data for these Samoan basalts. Several young samples from the Vailulu'u summit crater also exhibit significant 210Pb deficits that reflect either shallow magmatic processes or continuous magma degassing. In both cases, decadal residence times are inferred from these 210Pb deficits. The young coeval volcanism on Malumalu and Vailulu'u suggests the Samoa hot spot is currently migrating to the northeast due to dynamic interaction with the Tonga slab.
  • Article
    Observations and modeling of a hydrothermal plume in Yellowstone Lake
    (American Geophysical Union, 2019-05-09) Sohn, Robert A. ; Luttrell, Karen M. ; Shroyer, Emily L. ; Stranne, Christian ; Harris, Robert N. ; Favorito, Julia E.
    Acoustic Doppler current profiler and conductivity‐temperature‐depth data acquired in Yellowstone Lake reveal the presence of a buoyant plume above the “Deep Hole” hydrothermal system, located southeast of Stevenson Island. Distributed venting in the ~200 × 200‐m hydrothermal field creates a plume with vertical velocities of ~10 cm/s in the mid‐water column. Salinity profiles indicate that during the period of strong summer stratification the plume rises to a neutral buoyancy horizon at ~45‐m depth, corresponding to a ~70‐m rise height, where it generates an anomaly of ~5% (−0.0014 psu) relative to background lake water. We simulate the plume with a numerical model and find that a heat flux of 28 MW reproduces the salinity and vertical velocity observations, corresponding to a mass flux of 1.4 × 103 kg/s. When observational uncertainties are considered, the heat flux could range between 20 to 50 MW.
  • Article
    Microearthquake patterns following the 1998 eruption of Axial Volcano, Juan de Fuca Ridge : mechanical relaxation and thermal strain
    (American Geophysical Union, 2004-01-14) Sohn, Robert A. ; Barclay, Andrew H. ; Webb, Spahr C.
    Ocean bottom seismic networks deployed following the 1998 eruption of Axial seamount reveal an evolving pattern of microearthquake activity associated with subsurface magmatism and thermal strain. Seismicity rates decay steadily over 15 months of observation (February 8, 1998, to April 30, 1999), consistent with a trend toward thermal and mechanical equilibrium in the shallow crust after the magmatic event. Immediately after the eruption, seismicity rates were high for about 60 days in the southeast corner of the caldera where lava flows from the 1998 eruption were mapped. A small burst of seismic activity was observed on the southeast shoulder of the volcano from 100 to 150 days after the eruption. These events, which are characterized by slip on nearly vertical faults in the shallow crust, extend about 6 km from the southeast corner of the caldera and overlie a mid-crustal low-velocity zone. After this episode, seismicity rates remain low until the end of the observation period, 455 days after the eruption. Shallow (~0.7 km depth) events, consistent with thermal contraction and volume changes of ~2 × 10−3 m3 in ~5 m3 sources, are observed in individual clusters beneath hydrothermal vents within the 1998 lava flow at the southeast edge of the caldera. Microearthquakes observed during the last 70 days of observation are distributed around the central caldera, most likely representing small amounts of subsidence on caldera faults during the final stages of equilibration following melt withdrawal associated with the 1998 eruption.
  • Article
    Heterogeneous and asymmetric crustal accretion : new constraints from multibeam bathymetry and potential field data from the Rainbow area of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (36°15'N)
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2015-09-13) Paulatto, Michele ; Canales, J. Pablo ; Dunn, Robert A. ; Sohn, Robert A.
    At slow-spreading mid-ocean ridges, crustal accretion style can vary significantly along and across ridge segments. In magma-poor regions, seafloor spreading can be accommodated largely by tectonic processes, however, the internal structure and formation mechanism of such highly tectonized crust are not fully understood. We analyze multibeam bathymetry and potential field data from the Rainbow area of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (35°40'N–36°40'N), a section of the ridge that shows diverse accretion styles. We identify volcanic, tectonized and sedimented terrain and measure exposed fault area to estimate the tectonic strain, T, and the fraction of magmatic accretion, M. Estimated T values range from 0.2–0.4 on ridge segments to 0.6-0.8 at the Rainbow nontransform discontinuity (NTD). At segment ends T is asymmetric, reflecting asymmetries in accretion rate, topography and faulting between inside and outside offset corners. Detachment faults have formed preferentially at inside corners, where tectonic strain is higher. We identify at least two oceanic core complexes on the fossil trace of the NTD, in addition to the Rainbow massif, which occupies the offset today. A gravity high and low magnetization suggest that the Rainbow massif, which hosts a high-temperature hydrothermal system, was uplifted by a west dipping detachment fault. Asymmetric plate ages indicate localization of tectonic strain at the inside corners and migration of the detachment toward and across the ridge axis, which may have caused emplacement of magma into the footwall. Hydrothermal circulation and heat extraction is possibly favored by increased permeability generated by fracturing of the footwall and deep-penetrating second-generation faults.
  • Article
    Spectral analysis of vertical temperature profile time-series data in Yellowstone Lake sediments
    (American Geophysical Union, 2021-03-17) Sohn, Robert A. ; Harris, Robert N.
    We use yearlong vertical temperature profile time-series (seven thermistors at evenly spaced depth intervals from 10 to 70 cm) from five sites in and around the Deep Hole thermal area, southeast of Stevenson Island, Yellowstone Lake, to investigate heat and mass fluxes across the lake floor. The records demonstrate that thermal gradients in surficial sediments are modulated by a rich spectrum of bottom water temperature variations generated by hydrodynamic processes, and that sites inside the thermal area also respond to hydrothermal variations. We develop and implement a new method for estimating the sediment effective thermal diffusivity and pore fluid vertical flow rate that exploits the full spectrum of observed temperature variations to generate the parameter estimates, uncertainties, and metrics to assess statistical significance. Sediments at sites outside thermal areas have gradients of ∼7.5°C/m, in situ thermal diffusivities of ∼1.6 × 10−7 m2/s consistent with highly porous (80–90%) siliceous sediments, and experience hypolentic flow in the upper ∼20 cm. Sites inside the Deep Hole thermal area exhibit considerable spatial and temporal variability, with gradients of 1–32°C/m, and higher thermal diffusivities of ∼2–12 × 10−7 m2/s, consistent with hydrothermal alteration of biogenic silica to clays, quartz, and pyrite. Upward pore fluid flow at these sites is observed across multiple depth intervals, with maximum values of ∼3 cm/day. The observed spatial and temporal variability within the thermal area is consistent with upward finger flow combined with short wavelength convection within the porous sediments above a steam reservoir.
  • Article
    Eruptions at Lone Star Geyser, Yellowstone National Park, USA: 1. Energetics and eruption dynamics
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2013-08-13) Karlstrom, Leif ; Hurwitz, Shaul ; Sohn, Robert A. ; Vandemeulebrouck, Jean ; Murphy, Fred ; Rudolph, Maxwell L. ; Johnston, Malcolm J. S. ; Manga, Michael ; McCleskey, R. Blaine
    Geysers provide a natural laboratory to study multiphase eruptive processes. We present results from a 4 day experiment at Lone Star Geyser in Yellowstone National Park, USA. We simultaneously measured water discharge, acoustic emissions, infrared intensity, and visible and infrared video to quantify the energetics and dynamics of eruptions, occurring approximately every 3 h. We define four phases in the eruption cycle (1) a 28±3 min phase with liquid and steam fountaining, with maximum jet velocities of 16–28 m s−1, steam mass fraction of less than ∼0.01. Intermittently choked flow and flow oscillations with periods increasing from 20 to 40 s are coincident with a decrease in jet velocity and an increase of steam fraction; (2) a 26±8 min posteruption relaxation phase with no discharge from the vent, infrared (IR), and acoustic power oscillations gliding between 30 and 40 s; (3) a 59±13 min recharge period during which the geyser is quiescent and progressively refills, and (4) a 69±14 min preplay period characterized by a series of 5–10 min long pulses of steam, small volumes of liquid water discharge, and 50–70 s flow oscillations. The erupted waters ascend from a 160–170°C reservoir, and the volume discharged during the entire eruptive cycle is 20.8±4.1 m3. Assuming isentropic expansion, we calculate a heat output from the geyser of 1.4–1.5 MW, which is <0.1% of the total heat output from Yellowstone Caldera.
  • Article
    Turbulence-induced bubble nucleation in hydrothermal fluids beneath Yellowstone Lake
    (Nature Research, 2022-04-29) Caudron, Corentin ; Vandemeulebrouck, Jean ; Sohn, Robert A.
    Volcanic systems generate large amounts of gas, and understanding gas fluxes is a fundamental aspect of volcanology and hazard mitigation. Volcanic gases can be challenging to measure, but acoustic methods hold promise in underwater environments because gas bubbles are powerful sound sources. We deployed an acoustic system to study the nature of gas discharge at a large (~30 MW) thermal field on the floor of Yellowstone Lake, which has experienced numerous hydrothermal explosions since the last glaciation (~13.4 ka). We find that small (<10 Pa) turbulent flow instabilities trigger the nucleation of CO2 bubbles in the saturated fluids. The observation of CO2 bubbles nucleating in hydrothermal fluids due to small pressure perturbations informs our understanding of hydrothermal explosions in Yellowstone Lake, and demonstrates that acoustic data in underwater environments can provide insight into the stability of gas-rich systems, as well as gas fluxes.
  • Preprint
    Explosive volcanism on the ultraslow-spreading Gakkel ridge, Arctic Ocean
    ( 2007-11-26) Sohn, Robert A. ; Willis, Claire ; Humphris, Susan E. ; Shank, Timothy M. ; Singh, Hanumant ; Edmonds, Henrietta N. ; Kunz, Clayton G. ; Hedman, Ulf ; Helmke, Elisabeth ; Jakuba, Michael V. ; Liljebladh, Bengt ; Linder, Julia ; Murphy, Christopher A. ; Nakamura, Ko-ichi ; Sato, Taichi ; Schlindwein, Vera ; Stranne, Christian ; Tausenfreund, Upchurch ; Winsor, Peter ; Jakobsson, Martin ; Soule, Samuel A.
    Roughly 60% of the Earth’s outer surface is comprised of oceanic crust formed by volcanic processes at mid-ocean ridges (MORs). Although only a small fraction of this vast volcanic terrain has been visually surveyed and/or sampled, the available evidence suggests that explosive eruptions are rare on MORs, particularly at depths below the critical point for steam (3000 m). A pyroclastic deposit has never been observed on the seafloor below 3000 m, presumably because the volatile content of mid-ocean ridge basalts is generally too low to produce the gas fractions required to fragment a magma at such high hydrostatic pressure. We employed new deep submergence technologies during an International Polar Year expedition to the Gakkel Ridge in the Arctic Basin at 85°E, to acquire the first-ever photographic images of ‘zero-age’ volcanic terrain on this remote, ice-covered MOR. Our imagery reveals that the axial valley at 4000 m water depth is blanketed with unconsolidated pyroclastic deposits, including bubble wall fragments (limu o Pele), covering a large area greater than 10 km2. At least 13.5 wt% CO2 is required to fragment magma at these depths, which is ~10x greater than the highest values measured to-date in a MOR basalt. These observations raise important questions regarding the accumulation and discharge of magmatic volatiles at ultra-slow spreading rates on the Gakkel Ridge (6- 14 mm yr-1, full-rate), and demonstrate that large-scale pyroclastic activity is possible along even the deepest portions of the global MOR volcanic system.
  • Preprint
    Long-baseline acoustic navigation for under-ice autonomous underwater vehicle operations
    ( 2008-05-19) Jakuba, Michael V. ; Roman, Christopher N. ; Singh, Hanumant ; Murphy, Christopher A. ; Kunz, Clayton G. ; Willis, Claire ; Sato, Taichi ; Sohn, Robert A.
    The recent Arctic GAkkel Vents Expedition (AGAVE) to the Arctic Ocean’s Gakkel Ridge (July/August 2007) aboard the Swedish ice-breaker I/B Oden employed autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) for water-column and ocean bottom surveys. These surveys were unique among AUV operations to date in requiring georeferenced navigation in proximity to the seafloor beneath permanent and moving ice cover. We report results for long-baseline (LBL) acoustic navigation during autonomous under-ice surveys near the seafloor and adaptation of the LBL concept for several typical operational situations including navigation in proximity to the ship during vehicle recoveries. Fixed seafloor transponders were free-fall deployed from the ship for deep positioning. The ship’s helicopter collected acoustic travel times from several locations to geo-reference the transponders’ locations, subject to the availability of openings in the ice. Two shallow beacons suspended from the ship provided near-surface spherical navigation in ship-relative coordinates. During routine recoveries, we used this system to navigate the vehicles into open water near the ship before commanding them to surface. In cases where a vehicle was impaired, its position was still determined acoustically through some combination of its acoustic modem, the fixed seafloor transponders, the ship-deployed transponders, and an on-board backup relay transponder. The techniques employed included ranging adapted for a moving origin and hyperbolic navigation.