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Hydrothermal plume mapping as a prospecting tool for seafloor sulfide deposits: a case study at the Zouyu-1 and Zouyu-2 hydrothermal fields in the southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge
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    Marine Geophysical Research, 38(1-2), 3-16.
Filetype[PDF-1.06 MB]

  • Description:
    Seafloor hydrothermal polymetallic sulfide deposits are a new type of resource, with great potential economic value and good prospect development. This paper discusses turbidity, oxidation-reduction potential, and temperature anomalies of hydrothermal plumes from the Zouyu-1 and Zouyu-2 hydrothermal fields on the southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge. We use the known location of these vent fields and plume data collected in multiple years (2009, 2011, 2013) to demonstrate how real-time plume exploration can be used to locate active vent fields, and thus associated sulfide deposits. Turbidity anomalies can be detected 10 s of km from an active source, but the location precision is no better than a few kilometers because fine-grained particles are quasi-conservative over periods of many days. Temperature and oxidation-reduction potential anomalies provide location precision of a few hundred meters. Temperature anomalies are generally weak and difficult to reliably detect, except by chance encounters of a buoyant plume. Oxidation-reduction potential is highly sensitive (nmol concentrations of reduced hydrothermal chemicals) to discharges of all temperatures and responds immediately to a plume encounter. Real-time surveys using continuous tows of turbidity and oxidation-reduction potential sensors offer the most efficient and precise surface ship exploration presently possible.
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