Helium isotopes at the Rainbow hydrothermal site (Mid-Atlantic Ridge, 36 degrees 14 ' N)

Type Article
Date 2004-04
Language English
Author(s) Jean Baptiste Philippe1, Fourre Elise1, Charlou Jean-Luc2, German Christopher3, Radford Knoery JoelORCID2
Affiliation(s) 1 : Ctr Etud Saclay, CNRS,UMR 1572, CEA, IPSL,LSCE, F-91191 Gif Sur Yvette, France.
2 : IFREMER, Ctr Brest, DRO GM, F-29280 Plouzane, France.
3 : Southampton Oceanog Ctr, Southampton SO14 3ZH, Hants, England.
Source Earth and Planetary Science Letters (0012-821X) (Elsevier), 2004-04 , Vol. 221 , N. 1-4 , P. 325-335
DOI 10.1016/S0012-821X(04)00094-9
WOS© Times Cited 45
Keyword(s) Mid Atlantic Ridge, Heat flux, Isotopes, Hydrothermal vents, Helium

The He-3/He-4 ratio and helium concentration have been measured in the vent fluids and the dispersing plume of the Rainbow hydrothermal site, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR). The He-3/He-4 ratio (7.51 R-a) and He-3 end-member concentration (25 pmol/kg) are in the range of observed values elsewhere on mid-ocean ridges, pointing to the relative homogeneity of the upper mantle with respect to helium isotope geochemistry. He-3 is linearly correlated with methane and manganese throughout the plume, with CH4/He-3 and Mn/He-3 ratios identical to those measured in the hot fluids. The bulk residence time of the plume in the rift valley estimated from the plume He-3 budget is similar to20 days. The He-3 flux transported by the plume, calculated from current-meter data, is 12.3 +/- 3 nmol/s, requiring a flux of 490 kg/s of high-temperature fluid. The scaling of the heat flux emitted by the Rainbow site to that of He-3, using the He-3/heat ratio measured in the hydrothermal fluids (9.3 +/- 2 X 10(-18) mol/J), indicates a heat output of 1320 MW. With a regional spreading rate of similar to25 mm/year, we calculate that the annual He-3 flux for this section of the MAR is of the order of 0.5 +/- 0.2 mmol per kilometre of ridge per millimetre of newly formed crust. This figure compares well with the flux calculated for the neighbouring Lucky Strike segment. Although the uncertainties remain large, both fluxes are similar to40-50% above the world average (0.33 mmol/km/mm), thus supporting earlier suggestions that the intensity of the hydrothermal activity south of the Azores is higher than expected from the regional spreading rate.

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