The structure and dynamics of mid-ocean ridge hydrothermal systems

D. Coumou*, T. Driesner, C. A. Heinrich

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Sub-seafloor hydrothermal convection at mid-ocean ridges transfers 25% of the Earth's heat flux and can form massive sulfide ore deposits. Their three-dimensional (3D) structure and transient dynamics are uncertain. Using 3D numerical simulations, we demonstrated that convection cells self-organize into pipelike upflow zones surrounded by narrow zones of focused and relatively warm downflow. This configuration ensures optimal heat transfer and efficient metal leaching for ore-deposit formation. Simulated fluid-residence times are as short as 3 years. The concentric flow geometry results from nonlinearities in fluid properties, and this may influence the behavior of other fluid-flow systems in Earth's crust.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1825-1828
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume321
Issue number5897
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sep 2008

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