Letter | Published:

Earthquake-induced changes in a hydrothermal system on the Juan de Fuca mid-ocean ridge

Nature volume 407, pages 174177 (14 September 2000) | Download Citation

Subjects

Abstract

Hydrothermal vents on mid-ocean ridges of the northeast Pacific Ocean are known to respond to seismic disturbances, with observed changes in vent temperature1,2,3,4. But these disturbances resulted from submarine volcanic activity; until now, there have been no observations of the response of a vent system to non-magmatic, tectonic events. Here we report measurements of hydrothermal vent temperature from several vents on the Juan de Fuca ridge in June 1999, before, during and after an earthquake swarm of apparent tectonic origin. Vent fluid temperatures began to rise 4–11 days after the first earthquake. Following this initial increase, the vent temperatures oscillated for about a month before settling down to higher values. We also observed a tenfold increase in fluid output from the hydrothermal system over a period of at least 80 days, extending along the entire ridge segment. Such a large, segment-wide thermal response to relatively modest tectonic activity is surprising, and raises questions about the sources of excess heat and fluid, and the possible effect on vent biological communities.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1.

    , , & Potential for monitoring low-level seismicity on the Juan de Fuca Ridge using military hydrophone arrays. Mar. Technol. Soc. J. 27, 22–30 ( 1994).

  2. 2.

    et al. Acoustic detection of a seafloor spreading episode on the Juan de Fuca Ridge using military hydrophone arrays. Geophys. Res. Lett. 22, 131–134 ( 1995).

  3. 3.

    & The January 1998 earthquake swarm at axial volcano, Juan de Fuca Ridge: Hydroacoustic evidence of seafloor volcanic activity. Geophys. Res. Lett. 26, 3429– 3432 (1999).

  4. 4.

    & Hydroacoustic detection of volcanic activity on the Gorda Ridge, February–March 1996. Deep-Sea Res. II 45, 2513–2530 ( 1998).

  5. 5.

    et al. The Endeavour Hydrothermal System I: Cellular circulation above an active cracking front yields large sulfide structures, fresh vent water and hyperthermophilic Archaea. RIDGE Events 8 , 11–19 (1997).

  6. 6.

    & Moment-tensor analysis using regional data: Application to the 25 March 1993, Scotts Mills, Oregon earthquake. Geophys. Res. Lett. 22, 13–16 (1995).

  7. 7.

    & Microbiology and ecology of filamentous sulfur formation. Science 277, 1483– 1485 (1997).

  8. 8.

    , & Thermophilic and hyperthermophilic microorganisms in 3–30 °C hydrothermal fluids following a deep-sea volcanic eruption. FEMS Microbiol. Ecol. 25, 33–41 (1998).

  9. 9.

    , & Near-axis heat flow measurements on the northern Juan de Fuca Ridge: Implications for fluid circulation in oceanic crust. Geophys. Res. Lett. 20, 1875–1878 (1993).

  10. 10.

    , , & Geology of a vigorous hydrothermal system on the Endeavour segment, Juan de Fuca Ridge. J. Geophys. Res. 97, 19663– 19682 (1992).

  11. 11.

    , & A microearthquake survey of the high-temperature vent fields on the volcanically active East Pacific Rise (9° 50′N). J. Geophys. Res. 104, 25367– 25378 (1999).

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank R. Lowell and A. Fisher for comments and suggestions. The field programmes and data analysis were supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. *School of Oceanography, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195-7940 , USA

    • H. Paul Johnson
    •  & Michael Hutnak
  2. †PMEL NOAA and Oregon State University , Newport, Oregon 97365, USA

    • Robert P. Dziak
    •  & Christopher G. Fox
  3. ‡Department of Biology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA

    • Istvan Urcuyo
    •  & Charles Fisher
  4. §Department of Oceanography, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA

    • James P. Cowen
  5. COAS, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, USA

    • John Nabelek

Authors

  1. Search for H. Paul Johnson in:

  2. Search for Michael Hutnak in:

  3. Search for Robert P. Dziak in:

  4. Search for Christopher G. Fox in:

  5. Search for Istvan Urcuyo in:

  6. Search for James P. Cowen in:

  7. Search for John Nabelek in:

  8. Search for Charles Fisher in:

Corresponding author

Correspondence to H. Paul Johnson.

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/35025040

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.