High-Sulfidation Submarine Hydrothermal Systems Of The Mariana Arc

Ditchburn, Robert G.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2008
The Mariana arc is an ~1,400-km-long intraoceanic arc that marks the southern extension of the Izu-Bonin arc, and is host to 62 ?volcanic centers? of which at least 27 (21 submarine) are hydrothermally, or volcanically active. A surface ship cruise in early 2003 mapped the distribution of hydrothermal plumes emanating from these centers, followed by remotely operated vehicle (ROV) cruises with ROPOS in 2004 and Jason II in 2006. With the exception of one volcano (East Diamante), none of the vent sites visited by the ROVs were host to sulfide mineralization. Rather, they were characterized by high sulfidation mineral assemblages dominated by native sulfur. The sulfur was seen marking the vicinity of vent sites, or as sulfur ?chimneys? (e.g., NW Eifuku and Nikko), or more spectacularly as ?lakes? of molten sulfur, either occupying the summit crater of the volcano (e.g., Nikko), or perched on the flanks of the volcano, near the summit (e.g., Daikoku). Gas (H2S and CO2) was discharging through the molten sulfur. Evidence for these lakes to have either been substantially ?deeper? in their recent past (e.g., Nikko), or existing at other volcanoes (e.g., Seamount ?X?) is given by remnant ?pillars? of native sulfur that are reminiscent of rock pillars in lava lakes found along mid-ocean ridges.
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