Dispersal of Hydrothermal Vent Larvae at East Pacific Rise 9-10°N Segment Academic Article uri icon


  • A three?dimensional, primitive?equation, ocean circulation model coupled with a Lagrangian particle?tracking algorithm is used to investigate the dispersal and settlement of planktonic larvae released from discrete hydrothermal habitats on the East Pacific Rise segment at 9–10°N. Model outputs show that mean circulation is anticyclonic around the ridge segment, which consists of a northward flow along the western flank and a southward flow along the eastern flank. Those flank jets are dispersal expressways for the along?ridge larval transport and strongly affect its overall direction and spatial?temporal variations. It is evident from model results that the transform faults bounding the ridge segment and off axis topography (the Lamont Seamount Chain) act as topographic barriers to larval dispersal in the along?ridge direction. Furthermore, the presence of an overlapping spreading center and an adjacent local topographic high impedes the southward along?ridge larval transport. The model results suggest that larval recolonization within ridge?crest habitats is enhanced by the anticyclonic circulation around the ridge segment, and the overall recolonization rate is higher for larvae having a short precompetency period and an altitude above the bottom sufficient to avoid influence by the near?bottom currents Surprisingly, for larvae having a long precompetency period (>10 days), the prolonged travel time allowed some of those larvae to return to their natal vent clusters, which results in an unexpected increase in connectivity among natal and neighboring sites. Overall, model?based predictions of connectivity are highly sensitive to the larval precompetency period and vertical position in the water column.

publication date

  • November 2018