Geothermal Convection Through Oceanic Crust and Sediments in the Indian Ocean

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Science  25 May 1979:
Vol. 204, Issue 4395, pp. 828-832
DOI: 10.1126/science.204.4395.828


Closely spaced heat flow surveys at four sites on the flanks of the Central Indian Ridge and the Southeast Indian Ridge delineate a pattern of oscillatory heat flow which can only result from cellular convection of oceanic bottom water through the oceanic crust and overlying sediment. These cells have a wavelength of 5 to 10 kilometers and are presently active in sea floor 18 x 106, 25 x 106, and 45 x 106 years old of the Crozet Basin and in sea floor 55 x 106 years old of the Madagascar Basin. The precise measurement of nonlinear temperature profiles makes it possible to calculate the conductive and convective heat transfer components through the sea floor. Even in the oldest sites, geothermal convection is still a major component of heat transfer through both the crust and sedimentary layers. These observations coupled with the results of earlier oceanwide geothermal studies indicate that more than one-third of the entire surface area of the world's ocean floor contains presently active geothermal convection that is cellular in plan form.