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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2015-03-24
    Description: We report on newly discovered mud volcanoes located at ~4500 m water depth ~90 km west of the deformation front of the accretionary wedge of the Gulf of Cadiz, and thus outside of their typical geotectonic environment. Seismic data suggest that fluid flow is mediated by a 〉400-km-long strike-slip fault marking the transcurrent plate boundary between Africa and Eurasia. Geochemical data (Cl, B, Sr, 87 Sr/ 86 Sr, 18 O, D) reveal that fluids originate in oceanic crust older than 140 Ma. On their rise to the surface, these fluids receive strong geochemical signals from recrystallization of Upper Jurassic carbonates and clay-mineral dehydration in younger terrigeneous units. At present, reports of mud volcanoes in similar deep-sea settings are rare, but given that the large area of transform-type plate boundaries has been barely investigated, such pathways of fluid discharge may provide an important, yet unappreciated link between the deeply buried oceanic crust and the deep ocean.
    Print ISSN: 0091-7613
    Electronic ISSN: 1943-2682
    Topics: Geosciences
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2016-06-24
    Description: The presence of potential microbial trace fossils (endolithic microborings) has been well documented in oceanic basaltic pillow lavas, hyaloclastites, tuffs, and transitional subglacial marine lavas in the past 30 yr. Despite their evident abundance in oceanic to subglacial environments, they have not been observed in continental basalts that were not erupted in marine or subglacial settings. To expand the record of putative endolithic microborings in volcanic rocks to nonmarine, continental lacustrine environments, we examined hydrovolcanic pyroclastic deposits in the Fort Rock volcanic field, central Oregon. This study presents the textures, mineralogy, and geochemistry of basaltic tuffs containing possible endolithic microborings comparable in morphology, size, and distribution to those described in earlier oceanic and subglacial basalt studies. We observed a variety of tubular and granular textures that show evidence of biogenic morphologies and behavior, and a primary geological context that expresses their age and syngenicity. Petrographic relationships with secondary phases (chabazite, nontronite, calcite) indicate that the construction of microtunnels occurred in saline, alkaline fluids at temperatures of 25–80 °C. In addition, positive correlations were observed between the extent of aqueous (abiotic) alteration and both the abundance of microtunnels and morphological type. These correlations suggest that microtunnels were more readily formed where there was greater abiotic alteration-fluid flux and that the resulting change in chemical composition of those fluids may have had a direct influence on the formation process or possibly the type of constructing microbe. This work adds to understanding of factors controlling microtunnel formation and is the first account of putative endolithic microborings in a continental lacustrine setting. This new information may also have implications in the search for habitable extraterrestrial environments, such as on Mars.
    Print ISSN: 0016-7606
    Electronic ISSN: 1943-2674
    Topics: Geosciences
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2016-08-23
    Description: During opening of a new ocean, magma intrudes into the surrounding sedimentary basins. Heat provided by the intrusions matures the host rock, creating metamorphic aureoles potentially releasing large amounts of hydrocarbons. These hydrocarbons may migrate to the seafloor in hydrothermal vent complexes in sufficient volumes to trigger global warming, e.g., during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). Mound structures at the top of buried hydrothermal vent complexes observed in seismic data off Norway were previously interpreted as sediment volcanoes, and the amount of released hydrocarbon was estimated based on this interpretation. Here, we present new geophysical and geochemical data from the Gulf of California suggesting that such mound structures could in fact be edifices constructed by the growth of black smoker–type chimneys rather than sediment volcanoes. We have evidence for two buried and one active hydrothermal vent systems outside the rift axis. The active vent releases fluids of several hundred degrees Celsius containing abundant methane, mid-ocean ridge basalt–type helium, and precipitating solids up to 300 m high into the water column. Our observations challenge the idea that methane is emitted slowly from rift-related vents. The association of large amounts of methane with hydrothermal fluids that enter the water column at high pressure and temperature provides an efficient mechanism to transport hydrocarbons into the water column and atmosphere, lending support to the hypothesis that rapid climate change such as during the PETM can be triggered by magmatic intrusions into organic-rich sedimentary basins.
    Print ISSN: 0091-7613
    Electronic ISSN: 1943-2682
    Topics: Geosciences
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  • 4
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    Geological Society of America (GSA)
    In: Geology
    Publication Date: 2017-05-13
    Description: The more than 500 fossil Ca-carbonatite occurrences on Earth are at odds with the only active East African Rift carbonatite volcano, Oldoinyo Lengai (Tanzania), which produces Na-carbonatite magmas. The volcano’s recent major explosive eruptions yielded a mix of nephelinitic and carbonatite melts, supporting the hypothesis that carbonatites and spatially associated peralkaline silicate lavas are related through liquid immiscibility. Nevertheless, previous eruption temperatures of Na-carbonatites were 490–595 °C, which is 250–450 °C lower than for any suitable conjugate silicate liquid. This study demonstrates experimentally that moderately alkaline Ca-carbonatite melts evolve to Na-carbonatites through crystal fractionation. The thermal barrier of the synthetic Na-Ca-carbonate system, held to preclude an evolution from Ca-carbonatites to Na-carbonatites, vanishes in the natural system, where continuous fractionation of calcite + apatite leads to Na-carbonatites, as observed at Oldoinyo Lengai. Furthermore, saturating the Na-carbonatite with minerals present in possible conjugate nephelinites yields a parent carbonatite with total alkali contents of 8–9 wt%, i.e., concentrations that are realistic for immiscible separation from nephelinitic liquids at 1000–1050 °C. Modeling the liquid line of descent along the calcite surface requires a total fractionation of ~48% calcite, ~12% apatite, and ~2 wt% clinopyroxene. SiO 2 solubility only increases from 0.2 to 2.9 wt% at 750–1200 °C, leaving little leeway for crystallization of silicates. The experimental results suggest a moderately alkaline parent to the Oldoinyo Lengai carbonatites and therefore a common origin for carbonatites related to alkaline magmatism.
    Print ISSN: 0091-7613
    Electronic ISSN: 1943-2682
    Topics: Geosciences
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  • 5
    Publication Date: 2016-12-21
    Description: Quantifying the time scales of magmatic differentiation is critical for understanding the rate at which silicic plutonic and volcanic rocks form. Directly dating this process is difficult because locations with both clear evidence for fractional crystallization and the accessory phases necessary for radiometric dating are rare. Early zircon saturation, however, appears to be characteristic of many high-K, arc-related melts due to their generally elevated initial Zr concentrations. Thus, high-K plutonic series are ideal candidates to study the time scales of magmatic differentiation using zircon U-Pb geochronology. This study focuses on the Dariv Igneous Complex in western Mongolia where early saturation of zircon in a suite of cogenetic, upper crustal (〈0.5 GPa) igneous rocks ranging from ultramafic cumulates to evolved granitoids allows us to date magmatic differentiation. Crystallization ages from six samples across the sequence indicate that magmatic fractionation from a basalt to high-silica (〉65 wt% SiO 2 ) melt occurred in ≤590 ± 350 k.y. This estimate is greater than modeled time scales of conductive cooling of a single intrusion and physical segregation of minerals from a melt, suggesting that continued influx of heat through magmatic activity in the complex may have prolonged cooling and thus time scales associated with the production of silica-enriched melts.
    Print ISSN: 0091-7613
    Electronic ISSN: 1943-2682
    Topics: Geosciences
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