Hydrothermal methane venting between 12°N and 26°N along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

Hydrographic surveys along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) between 12°N and 26°N, carried out from 1984 to 1990, show a variable pattern of CH4-rich water column plumes. The vertical distribution of CH4 at stations located every 20–40 km is presented along this 1200-km-long section of the MAR. CH4 venting is clearly demonstrated. CH4-enriched fluids rise from vents as plumes; spreading is confined to the axial valley due to the topography of the MAR. CH4 contents from 45 nmol to 675 nmol/kg are measured in the buoyant plumes above the two active hydrothermal sites (MARK 23°N; TAG 26°N) known at present, whereas CH4 anomalies up to 3.6 nmol/kg are typically observed in plumes emitted either on the inner floor, on the walls, and/or at the top of the rift mountains along the studied ridge section. CH4 concentrations (45 μmol to 144 μmol/kg) in MARK and TAG vent fluids are of the same order of magnitude as those found in the East Pacific Rise fluids. Even though CH4 is known to be unstable with respect to oxidation by dissolved oxygen, and in spite of its microbial oxidation in plumes, these results confirm CH4 to be a good indicator to track hydrothermal plumes and to map the variation of hydrothermal activity along mid oceanic ridges. Moreover, between 12° and 26°N along the MAR, CH4 results show that while hydrothermal activity is present everywhere along the ridge, it is predominant near fracture zones (FZ) (Kane FZ, 15°20′N FZ). Comparison of CH4 tracer with total dissolvable manganese (TDM) tracer in plumes allows us to differentiate subseafloor hydrothermal processes. The high TDM/CH4 found above TAG and MARK areas is indicative of basalt-seawater interaction, while at 15°N the low TDM/CH4 provides evidence of fluid circulation in ultrabasic rocks. CH4 data confirm the association between mantle degassing, hydrothermal activity, and serpentinization along this 12°–26°N section of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

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Charlou Jean-Luc, Donval Jean-Pierre (1993). Hydrothermal methane venting between 12°N and 26°N along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Journal Of Geophysical Research-solid Earth. 98 (B6). 9625-9642. https://doi.org/10.1029/92JB02047, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00070/18103/

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