Tidal Fluctuation of Diffuse Vent Fluid Flow

When you think hydrothermal vents, typically what comes to mind are towering seafloor structures billowing black, mineral-rich fluid at temperatures of 300oC. In addition to these high-temperature vents, however, there are also diffuse vents from which lower temperature (<100oC) sub-seafloor fluid seeps into the surrounding waters. For example, sensors deployed at the ASHES Vent Field site on the OOI Cabled Axial Seamount Array collect data surrounding the 4 meter tall actively venting sulfide chimney called “Mushroom” as well as a diffuse site adjacent to its base.

One of the interesting dynamics of diffuse vent sites is the correspondence of fluctuation of their flow with the semi-diurnal tidal cycle. By examining water temperature close to the seafloor over the vent area and the tidal cycle (as measured by the bottom pressure and tilt sensor), the pattern emerges that during times of high pressure on the seafloor (high tide) temperature in the seawater around the vent increases. Seawater temperatures increase as more warm, sub-seafloor water emerges from the vent, so it appears that the increased pressure on the seafloor from high tide is “squeezing” more hot fluid from the diffuse vent.

Vent fluid flow at Cabled ASHES Vent Field fluctuates with the tidal signal captured by the Bottom Pressure and Tilt instrument. Flow rates can be inferred from changes in water temperature close to the vent, as measured by thermistor 01 at the bottom center of the 3-D temperature array (according to the Data Product Specification sheet).

Access the Data

Disclaimer: data used in this example and provided in the .csv file were downloaded from the OOI on November 7, 2019. The file format and/or contents could have changed if downloaded directly from OOI Net after this date.

Access from OOI Net:

Pull Data Using Python Code. Code demonstrates how to to download Vent Fluid Temperature and Bottom Pressure and Tilt data from the OOI system using the Machine-to-Machine (M2M) interface, downsample the dataset, and export as a .csv file.

Data Review Pages:
Diffuse Vent Fluid 3-D Temperature Array
Bottom Pressure and Tilt Sensor

Cabled Axial Seamount ASHES Vent Field (RS03ASHS)

Location: Ashes vent field on the Axial Seamount caldera on the Juan de Fuca plate in the NE Pacific
Lat/Lon: 45.9337°N, 130.0139°W
Water Column Depth: 1,552m
Platform: Medium-Power Junction Box (MJ03B)
Instruments: Both instruments are connected to the Medium Power Junction Box through extension cables
Diffuse Vent Fluid 3-D Temperature Array (TMPSF-A)
Bottom Pressure and Tilt Sensor (BOTPT-A)

OOI Science Theme

Fluid-Rock Interactions and the Sub-seafloor Biosphere

Related Publications

Mitteldstaedt, E., et al. 2016. Diffuse venting at the ASHES hydrothermal field: Heat flux and tidally modulated flow variability derived from in situ time‐series measurements. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 17(4):1435-1453. https://doi.org/10.1002/2015GC006144.

Bemis, K., et al. 2015. Diffuse Flow On and Around Hydrothermal Vents at Mid-Ocean Ridges. Oceanography 25:182-191. https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2012.16.

Barreyre, T., et al. 2014. Temporal variability and tidal modulation of hydrothermal exit‐fluid temperatures at the Lucky Strike deep‐sea vent field, Mid‐Atlantic Ridge. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 119:2543-2566. https://doi.org/10.1002/2013JB010478.

Tivey, M.K., et al. 2002. Insights into tide-related variability at seafloor hydrothermal vents from time-series temperature measurements. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 202:693-707. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0012-821X(02)00801-4.