Progress in Deciphering the Controls on the Geochemistry of Fluids in Seafloor Hydrothermal Systems. Academic Article uri icon


  • Over the last four decades, more than 500 sites of seafloor hydrothermal venting have been identified in a range of tectonic environments. These vents represent the seafloor manifestation of hydrothermal convection of seawater through the permeable oceanic basement that is driven by a subsurface heat source. Hydrothermal circulation has fundamental effects on the transfer of heat and mass from the lithosphere to the hydrosphere, the composition of seawater, the physical and chemical properties of the oceanic basement, and vent ecosystems at and below the seafloor. In this review, we compare and contrast the vent fluid chemistry from hydrothermal fields in a range of tectonic settings to assess the relative roles of fluid-mineral equilibria, phase separation, magmatic input, seawater entrainment, and sediment cover in producing the observed range of fluid compositions. We focus particularly on hydrothermal activity in those tectonic environments (e.g., mid-ocean ridge detachment faults, back-arc basins, and island arc volcanoes) where significant progress has been made in the last decade in documenting the variations in vent fluid composition.

publication date

  • January 3, 2018