Water Cooling for the Earth's Crust
The hydrothermal circulation changes the ocean crust and increases the Chlorine (CL) concentration of the rocks by incorporation of sea water. The magma takes up parts of this crust leading to an increase of chlorine of the magma. If the magma erupts at the sea floor, basalt lava is formed that we sampled and investigated in detail. Credit: GEOMAR.
How deep can seawater penetrate through cracks and fissures into the seafloor? By applying a new analysis method, an international team of researchers lead by GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel has now discovered that the water can penetrate to depths of more than 10 kilometres below the seafloor. This result suggests a stronger cooling effect on the hot mantle. The study was published in the international journal Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology.
Hot vents in the deep sea and geysers on land document the penetration of water into the hot interior of the Earth. This happens primarily in regions where the crust breaks up and magma chambers are close to the surface, e.g. in the area of mid-ocean ridges. But how deep does the water penetrate and cool the upper part of the hot mantle? So far it has been assumed that this process only reaches depths of a few kilometres. A new analytical method, developed at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, now shows that water penetrates much deeper into the Earth than previously thought.
“Chlorine is the key element in our investigations”, explains Dr. Froukje van der Zwan, first author of the GEOMAR study. “We were able to detect this indicator for seawater in basalt rock even in very low concentrations”, van der Zwan continues. In her PhD thesis, she developed a new method to study chlorine levels in rock samples collected at the Southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge and Gakkel Ridge in Central Arctic. In addition, a chemical analysis of selected crystals in the rocks samples also allowed the depth at which the chlorine was incorporated into the rock to be determined.
“For our analyses, we had to push the electron-beam microprobe to its limits. It is a special scanning electron microscope, to which spectrometers are attached for the quantitative analysis of major, minor and trace element concentration”, van der Zwan explains. The microprobe, as well as other necessary devices, were available at GEOMAR. Furthermore, with the results of this study, the authors were able to verify theoretical models that were developed at GEOMAR.
“So far, it has been assumed that high pressure and temperatures prevented water from penetrating below 10 kilometres”, says Prof. Dr. Colin Devey, co-author of the GEOMAR study. “We can now show that the water penetrates much deeper”, Devey continues. This finding is important for the cooling of the oceanic crust and its heat budget, as well as for the total level of volatiles in the oceanic crust, which are later subducted and recycled into the mantle.
This article has been republished from materials provided by Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.
Froukje M. van der Zwan, Colin W. Devey, Thor H. Hansteen, Renat R. Almeev, Nico Augustin, Matthias Frische, Karsten M. Haase, Ali Basaham, Jonathan E. Snow. Lower crustal hydrothermal circulation at slow-spreading ridges: evidence from chlorine in Arctic and South Atlantic basalt glasses and melt inclusions. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 2017; 172 (11-12) DOI: 10.1007/s00410-017-1418-1.
Single-Dose Vaccine Could Provide Faster Protection in Cholera EpidemicsNews
Each year there are more than three million cases of cholera worldwide, a disease transmitted through contaminated food and water that hits developing countries particularly hard. While the standard regimen for protecting against cholera with existing non-living oral cholera vaccines includes administering two doses over a two-week period, research now shows that giving a stronger single-dose of a live oral vaccine could be an effective tool in controlling outbreaks more quickly.READ MORE
Novel Isotope Tracking Method Offers Hope for Threatened SpeciesNews
Locating even a single nest of the secretive goshawk required weeks of exploration. So scientists decided to conduct elemental analysis using strontium, which has naturally occurring isotopes found everywhere on Earth that travel the food chain from the soil to plants to herbivores and predators. Analysing prey remains enabled the researchers to determine where the birds of prey were hunting, findings that could help steer conservation efforts for goshawks and other vulnerable species.READ MORE
New Therapeutic Could Help in the Battle Against TBNews
In search of new antibiotics, researchers have developed a structural analogue of mycolic acid, the essential membrane building block. This drug blocks key enzymes used in mycomembrane biosynthesis, significantly increasing the effectiveness of conventional antibiotics. This could provide a novel approach for tuberculosis treatment.READ MORE