30,000 Years of Hydrothermal Activity at the Lost City Vent Field

Science  25 Jul 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5632, pp. 495-498
DOI: 10.1126/science.1085582

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Strontium, carbon, and oxygen isotope data and radiocarbon ages document at least 30,000 years of hydrothermal activity driven by serpentinization reactions at Lost City. Serpentinization beneath this off-axis field is estimated to occur at a minimum rate of 1.2 × 104 cubic kilometers per year. The access of seawater to relatively cool, fresh peridotite, coupled with faulting, volumetric expansion, and mass wasting processes, are crucial to sustain such systems. The amount of heat produced by serpentinization of peridotite massifs, typical of slow and ultraslow spreading environments, has the potential to drive Lost City–type systems for hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of years.

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