National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 2018

Hydrothermal venting at Hinepuia submarine volcano, Kermadec arc: Understanding magmatic hydrothermal fluid chemistry

Stucker, V.K., S.L. Walker, C.E.J. de Ronde, F. Caratori Tontini, and S. Tsuchida

Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 18(10), 3646–3661, doi: 10.1002/2016GC006713 (2017)

The Hinepuia volcanic center is made up of two distinct edifices aligned northwest to southeast, with an active cone complex in the SE. Hinepuia is one of several active volcanoes in the northern segment of the Kermadec arc. Regional magnetic data show no evidence for large-scale hydrothermal alteration at Hinepuia, yet plume data confirm present-day hydrothermal discharge, suggesting that the hydrothermal system may be too young to have altered the host rocks with respect to measurable changes in magnetic signal. Gravity data are consistent with crustal thinning and shallow mantle under the volcanic center. Following the discovery of hydrothermal plumes over Hinepuia, the submersible Shinkai 6500 was used to explore the SE cone and sample hydrothermal fluids. The chemistry of hydrothermal fluids from submarine arc and backarc volcanoes is typically dominated by water-rock interactions and/or magmatic degassing. Chemical analyses of vent fluids show that Hinepuia does not quite fit either traditional model. Moreover, the Hinepuia samples fall between those typically ascribed to both end-member fluid types when plotted on a K-Mg-SO4 ternary diagram. Due to evidence of strong degassing, abundant native sulfur deposition, and H2S presence, the vent sampled at Hinepuia is ultimately classified as a magmatic-hydrothermal system with a water-rock influence. This vent is releasing water vapor and magmatic volatiles with a notable lack of salinity due to subcritical boiling and phase separation. Magmatic-hydrothermal fluid chemistry appears to be controlled by a combination of gas flux, phase separation processes, and volcano evolution and/or distance from the magma source.

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