Hydrothermal venting along Earth's fastest spreading center: East Pacific Rise, 27.5°-32.3°S

E. T. Baker, R. N. Hey, J. E. Lupton, J. A. Resing, R. A. Feely, J. J. Gharib, G. J. Massoth, F. J. Sansone, M. Kleinrock, F. Martinez, D. F. Naar, C. Rodrigo, D. Bohnenstiehl, D. Pardee

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39 Citations (Scopus)


During March/April 1998 we conducted detailed mapping and sampling of hydrothermal plumes along six segments of Earth's fasting spreading mid-ocean ridge, 27.5°-32.3°S on the East Pacific Rise. We compared the distribution and chemistry of hydrothermal plumes to geological indicators of long-term (spreading rate) and moderate-term (ridge inflation) variations in magmatic budget. In this large-offset, propagating rift setting, these geological indices span virtually the entire range found along fast spreading ridges worldwide. Hydrothermal plumes overlaid ∼60% of the length of superfast (>130 km/Myr) spreading axis surveyed and defined at least 14 separate vent fields. We observed no plumes over the slower spreading propagating segments. Finer-scale variations in the magmatic budget also correlated with hydrothermal activity, as the location of the five most intense plumes corresponded to subsegment peaks in ridge inflation. Along the entire ridge crest, the more inflated a ridge location the more likely it was to be overlain by a hydrothermal plume. Plume chemistry mostly reflected discharge from mature vent fields apparently unperturbed by magmatic activity within the last few years. Plume samples with high volatile/metal ratios, generally indicating recent seafloor volcanism, were scarce. Along-axis trends in both volatile (3He; CH4; ΔpH, a proxy for CO2; and particulate S) and nonvolatile (Fe, Mn) species showed a first-order agreement with the trend of ridge inflation. Nevertheless, a broad correspondence between the concentration of volatile species in plumes and geological proxies of magma supply identifies a pervasive magmatic imprint on this superfast spreading group of ridge segments.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2002


  • East Pacific Rise
  • Hydrothermal plumes
  • Magmatic budget
  • Marine chemistry
  • Mid-ocean ridge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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