Analysis of elements at DSDP Holes 70-506 and 70-509B

Sediments in the area of the Galapagos hydrothermal mounds are divided into two major categories. The first group, pelagic sediments, are nannofossil oozes with varying amounts of siliceous microfossils. The second group are hydrothermal sediments consisting of manganese-oxide crust fragments and green nontronitic clay granules. Hydrothermal sediments occur only in the upper half to two-thirds of the cores and are interbedded and mixed with pelagic sediments. Petrologic evidence indicates that hydrothermal nontronite forms as both a primary precipitate and as a replacement mineral of pre-existing pelagic sediment and hydrothermal manganese-oxide crust fragments. In addition, physical evidence supports chemical equations indicating that the pelagic sediments are being dissolved by hydrothermal solutions. The formation of hydrothermal nontronite is not merely confined to the surface of mounds, but also occurs at depth within their immediate area; hydrothermal nontronite is very likely forming today. Geologically speaking, the mounds and their hydrothermal sediments form almost instantaneously. The Galapagos mounds area is a unique one in the ocean basins, where pelagic sediments can be diagenetically transformed, dissolved, and replaced, possibly within a matter of years.

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