Geochemistry of hydrothermal fluids from the PACMANUS, Northeast Pual and Vienna Woods hydrothermal fields, Manus Basin, Papua New Guinea Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Processes controlling the composition of seafloor hydrothermal fluids in silicic back-arc or neararc crustal settings remain poorly constrained despite growing evidence for extensive magmatichydrothermal activity in such environments. We conducted a survey of vent fluid compositions from two contrasting sites in the Manus back-arc basin, Papua New Guinea, to examine the influence of variations in host rock composition and magmatic inputs (both a function of arc proximity) on hydrothermal fluid chemistry. Fluid samples were collected from felsic-hosted hydrothermal vent fields located on Pual Ridge (PACMANUS and Northeast (NE) Pual) near the active New Britain Arc and a basalt-hosted vent field (Vienna Woods) located farther from the arc on the Manus Spreading Center. Vienna Woods fluids were characterized by relatively uniform endmember temperatures (273–285°C) and major element compositions, low dissolved CO2 concentrations (4.4mmol/kg) and high measured pH (4.2–4.9 at 25°C). Temperatures and compositions were highly variable at PACMANUS/NE Pual and a large, newly discovered vent area (Fenway) was observed to be vigorously venting boiling (358°C) fluid. All PACMANUS fluids are characterized by negative ?DH2O values, in contrast to positive values at Vienna Woods, suggesting substantial magmatic water input to circulating fluids at Pual Ridge. Low measured pH (25°C) values (~2.6 to 2.7), high endmember CO2 (up to 274 mmol/kg) and negative ?34SH2S values (down to -2.7‰) in some vent fluids are also consistent with degassing of acid-volatile species from evolved magma. Dissolved CO2 at PACMANUS is more enriched in 13C (-4.1‰ to -2.3‰) than Vienna Woods (-5.2‰ to -5.7‰), suggesting a contribution of slab-derived carbon. The mobile elements (e.g. Li, K, Rb, Cs and B) are also greatly enriched in PACMANUS fluids reflecting increased abundances in the crust there relative to the Manus Spreading Center. Variations in alkali and dissolved gas abundances with Cl at PACMANUS and NE Pual suggest that phase separation has affected fluid chemistry despite the low temperatures of many vents. In further contrast to Vienna Woods, substantial modification of PACMANUS/NE Pual fluids has taken place as a result of seawater of seawater ingress into the upflow zone. Consistently high measured Mg concentrations, trends of increasingly non-conservative SO4 behavior, decreasing endmember Ca/Cl and Sr/Cl ratios with increased Mg indicate extensive subsurface anhydrite deposition is occurring as a result of subsurface seawater entrainment. Decreased pH and endmember Fe/Mn ratios in higher Mg fluids indicate that the associated mixing/cooling gives rise to sulfide deposition and secondary acidity production. Several low temperature (?80°C) fluids at PACMANUS/NE Pual also show evidence for anhydrite dissolution and water-rock interaction (fixation of B) subsequent to seawater entrainment. Hence, the evolution of fluid compositions at Pual Ridge reflects the cumulative effects of water/rock interaction, admixing and reaction of fluids exsolved from silicic magma, phase separation/segregation and seawater ingress into upflow zones.

publication date

  • February 2011