Centre for Deep Sea Research

Visualizing three-dimensional variations in the geochemistry of black smokers

MSc project of Solveig Adine Osjord

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Project title

Visualizing three-dimensional variations in the geochemistry of black smokers


Desiree Roerdink, Willem van der Bilt, Eoghan Reeves, Andreas Beinlich, Bjarte Hannisdal

Project description

The growth of black smoker chimneys in seafloor hydrothermal systems is thought to occur in two stages as a result of evolving thermal and chemical gradients (Haymon, 1983). Although this two-stage model is commonly accepted and widely used, it is a simplification largely based on two-dimensional cross sections. Real world chimneys are highly diverse in styles and shapes, affecting both the geochemistry of the deposit and the distribution of vent organisms inhabiting them, yet three-dimensional variations in the geochemistry and mineralogy remain poorly explored. However, revealing such three-dimensional variations is highly relevant for targeted sampling in geochemical and microbiological studies, estimating mineral abundances and resources, better quantifying porosity and fluid flow, as well as understanding the distribution of (microbial) life on chimney structures. 

This interdisciplinary project aims to use recent advances in computed tomography (CT) scanning to visualize and quantify variations in the permeability, (isotope) geochemistry and mineralogy (sulfide minerals, sulfate minerals, silica) of hydrothermal chimneys.