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Geothermal System at 21° N, East Pacific Rise: Physical Limits on Geothermal Fluid and Role of Adiabatic Expansion

James L. Bischoff
Science
New Series, Vol. 207, No. 4438 (Mar. 28, 1980), pp. 1465-1469
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1683366
Page Count: 5
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Abstract

Pressure-volume-temperature relations for water at the depth of the magma chamber at 21° N on the East Pacific Rise suggest that the maximum sub-surface temperature of the geothermal fluid is about 420 ° C. Both the chemistry of the discharging fluid and thermal balance considerations indicate that the effective water/rock ratios in the geothermal system are between 7 and 16. Such low ratios preclude effective metal transport at temperatures below 350° C, but metal solubilization at 400° C and above is effective even at such low ratios. It is proposed that the 420° C fluid ascends essentially adiabatically and in the process expands, cools, and precipitates metal sulfides within the upper few hundred meters of the sea floor and on the sea floor itself.

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