Large variations in vent fluid CO2/He-3 ratios signal rapid changes in magma chemistry at Loihi seamount, Hawaii

Citation:
Hilton, DR, McMurtry GM, Goff F.  1998.  Large variations in vent fluid CO2/He-3 ratios signal rapid changes in magma chemistry at Loihi seamount, Hawaii. Nature. 396:359-362.

Date Published:

Nov

Keywords:

basalts, carbon-dioxide, helium, hydrothermal solutions, isotopic variations, mantle volatiles, solubility, systematics, volcanic-rocks, xenoliths

Abstract:

Loihi seamount, an active submarine volcano situated about 30 km south of the island of Hawaii, is the youngest manifestation of the hotspot responsible for the Emperor-Hawaiian seamount chain and Hawaiian islands. This seamount has been the focus of numerous studies characterizing the geophysical, geochemical and biological features of an active intraplate volcano(1-14). In July-August 1996, Loihi seamount experienced the most intense period of seismic activity yet recorded for any Hawaiian volcano(1). Within two months of the 'seismic crisis: summit and flank hydrothermal vent fluids were collected using a manned submersible. Here we report data from these samples that indicate large and systematic changes in the CO2/He-3 ratios of the vent fluids compared to pre-seismic-crisis values(2,3). These changes are consistent with an abrupt transition from alkalic to tholeiitic basaltic magma having supplied volatiles to the vents. This rapid change in magma Chemistry has been discernible only through CO2/He-3 monitoring, and suggests that the anticipated evolution of the Hawaiian plume to a phase of shield-building tholeiitic magmatism is highly episodic at Loihi and not yet complete.

Notes:

n/a

Website

DOI:

10.1038/24603