Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography
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A telepresence-enabled cruise using remotely operated vehicle (ROV) exploration discovered an unusual tubular deposit of Fe-rich hydrothermal nontronite on a young seamount, Mashi, of the Wolf-Darwin lineament in the Galápagos Islands. X-ray diffraction, ICP-MS, ICP-AES, and SEM-EDS analyses show that this deposit is chemically and mineralogically similar to other deep-sea hydrothermal nontronites, indicating a likely formation temperature of about 30° to 50 °C by diffuse hydrothermal activity. These deposits contain mixtures of Fe-rich, Al-poor nontronite and poorly crystalline Fe-Si-oxyhydroxides with bulk compositions of 38–51 wt% SiO2 and 40–50 wt% Fe2O3*. The presence of filamentous and spherical structures in the samples suggests that mineral deposition was in part facilitated by chemosynthetic microbes. Although hydrothermal nontronite has been sampled at a number of seafloor sites by coring and dredging, this is the first in situ documentation of its unusual sinuous, tubular structure, on the seafloor. Quantitative image-analysis of ROV imagery indicates that hydrothermal fluid pathways, developed through an underlying pillow lava sequence, likely control the distinctive sinuous morphology.
Lubetkin, M., Carey, S., Kelley, K., Robert G., Cornell, W., Raineault, N., Balcano, J., Ballard, R., Salinas de Leon, P. Nontronite-bearing tubular hydrothermal deposits from a Galapagos seamount. Journal of Deep-Sea Research Part II, In Press
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