National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2005

Short-term variations in the distribution of hydrothermal plumes along a superfast spreading center, East Pacific Rise, 27°30'–32°20'S

Walker, S.L., E.T. Baker, G.J. Massoth, and R.N. Hey

Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 5(12), Q12005, doi: 10.1029/2004GC000789 (2004)

A multidisciplinary expedition to the southern East Pacific Rise (27°30′–32°20′S) provided an opportunity to compare the efficiency and effectiveness of two methods for mapping hydrothermal plumes: the standard conductivity-temperature-depth-optical (CTDO) tow-yo method and a towed fixed array of hydrographic and optical sensors (Miniature Autonomous Plume Recorders (MAPRs)). Six second-order segments were mapped twice: once with CTDO tow-yos, and then again with a fixed array of MAPRs attached to the cable of a deep-towed side-scan sonar. We found a high degree of overall agreement between the two methods in both the distribution and optical intensity of hydrothermal plumes. Betweensurvey differences increased as time between surveys increased from <0.5 to >6 days, presumably because of advection of the plumes by local currents. Plume locations changed by as much as ~10 km, implying a confidence limit in predicting vent site location using segment-scale hydrothermal plume surveys. Towed MAPR arrays proved an efficient and effective method for acquiring coregistered geological and hydrothermal plume data.

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