Dynamics of the Ocean Floor

Meteor M73/2 Palindrill

The examination of hot springs (hydrothermal systems) along volcanically active areas of the seabed leads to the understanding of the processes that shape the surface of the earth and globally influence the chemistry of seawater. The formation of these hot springs is based on the convection of seawater through the oceanic crust. During this convection process the seawater gets transported deep into the crust and is thereby heated and chemically altered. When it is reemitted at the seafloor into the ocean the water has a high temperature (ca. 400 °C) and the reaction with the normal (unaltered) seawater causes the formation of metal-sulfide deposits. Because the shapes of this deposits look like factory chimneys these objects are called “black smokers”. In some cases these sulfide deposits contain a substantial amount of copper and zinc as well as precious metals like gold and silver and may therefore be interesting as a reservoir for the raw material supply in the future. 

The understanding of these hydrothermal systems is complicated by the lack of information from the interior of these systems. Only few deposits were examined by drilling ships in the course of the Ocean Drilling Program (former ODP, now IODP). We therefore increasingly use portable drilling platforms which enable us to gain more information on the bedrock (5-15 m) with considerable less effort.

The goal of the research project PALINDRILL was to gain information about the third dimension of an active hydrothermal system that was formed at shallow water depth and in an island arc by using a mobile shallow drilling methods (<5 m using the ROCKDRILL 1 of the British Geological Survey). Such deposits are commonly enriched in precious metals and yet sparsely examined worldwide. They represent a modern analogue to terrestrial deposits which are an important source for metals such as copper, zinc, gold, silver and even high-tech metals such as Indium, Bismuth, or Germanium. The examination of deposits originated from such a geotectonic setting plays an important role in understanding the formation processes of these deposits (in general).

There are three deposits of this kind in the Tyrrhenian Sea in a water depth of < 100 to 1000 metres. They are characterized by boiling processes of the ascending hydrothermal fluids and a substantial amount of magmatic volatiles (CO2 and other gases).

With this project we want to examine to what extent the formation of sulfide deposits is determined by the composition of the surrounding rock. On the basis of the rock alteration processes in the drill core samples the origin, nature and evolution of the sulfide-forming hydrothermal fluids was to be reconstructed. We also wanted to investigate whether the input of magmatic volatiles into the shallow (< 1000 m) hydrothermal systems of the Tyrrhenian Sea is a pre-condition for the high precious metal and trace metal element amounts in this system or if the anomalous high element amounts can be explained by the boiling of the hydrothermal fluids in a shallow water setting. 

Furthermore, the nature and adaptation mechanisms of the microorganisms present in the hydrothermal systems of the Tyrrhenian Sea was investigated with respect to the highly gas-rich nature of the fluids and the toxidity of some of the trace elements that are enriched in these deposits.

 

Publications:

2014

  • Petersen, S., Monecke, T., Westhues, A., Hannington, M.D., Gemmell, J.B., Sharpe, R., Peters, M., Strauss, H., Lackschewitz, K., Augustin, N., Gibson, H., and Kleeberg, R. (2014). Drilling shallow water massive sulfides at the Palinuro Volcanic Complex, Aeolian Island Arc, Italy. Economic Geology 109(8): 2129-2158.

2012

  • Monecke, T., Petersen, S., Hannington, M.D., Anzidei, M., Esposito, A., Giordano, G., Garbe-Schönberg, D., Augustin, N., Melchert, B., and Hocking, M. (2012) Eruption craters associated with shallow submarine gas venting off Panarea island, Italy. Bulletin of Volcanology 74: 1937-1944.

2011 

  • Peters, M., Strauss, H., Petersen, S., Kummer, N., Thomazo, C. (2011) Hydrothermalism in the Tyrrhenian Sea: inorganic and microbial sulfur cycling as revealed by geochemical and multiple sulfur isotope data. Chemical Geology 280: 217-231.
  • Gemmell, J.B., Petersen, S., Monecke, T. and Hannington, M.D  (2011) Palinuro, a high to intermediate sulfidation, shallow marine, hydrothermal system in the southeastern Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy. GAC-MAC Joint Annual Meeting. Ottawa, Ontario, 25-27 May 2011: 72.

2010

  • Monecke, T., Petersen, S., Hannington, M., Anzidei, M., Esposito, A., Giordano, G., Garbe-Schönberg, D., Augustin, N, Melchert, B., and Hocking, M. (2010) Eruption craters associated with shallow submarine gas venting off Panarea Island, Italy. 2010 Annual Meeting Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 42, No. 5, p. 224, Denver, USA. Oct. 31 ­ Nov. 03 2010.
  • Peters, M., Strauss, H., Petersen, S., Kummer, N., Thomazo, C. (2010) The Palinuro volcanic complex (Tyrrhenian Sea): inorganic and microbial sulfur cycling as revealed by multiple sulfur isotope data. Minerals of the Ocean V and Deep-Sea Minerals and Mining II. VNIIOkeangeologia, St. Petersburg (Russia). June 28.-30. 2010. p.79-80.

2009 

  • Gemmell, J.B., Petersen, S., Monecke, T., Hannington, M., Lackschewitz, K., Augustin, N., Gibson, H., Perrin, K., Sharpe, R. and Simpson, K. (2009) High to intermediate sulfidation, shallow marine, sulfide mineralization in the south-eastern Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy. In Williams, P.J. et al (eds) Smart Science for Exploration and Mining, Proceedings of the Tenth Biennial SGA Meeting, Townsville Australia, Aug. 17-20, 2009, p.438-440.
  • Petersen, S. and Monecke, T. (2009) RV Meteor Cruise Report M73/2 Shallow drilling of hydrothermal sites in the Tyrrhenian Sea (PALINDRILL) Genoa – Heraklion, 14.08.2007 – 30.08.2007. IFM-GEOMAR Report No. 30: 235 pp.
  • Anzidei,M., Atzori, S., Balsamo, F., Cas, R.A.F., Caratori, T.F., Carmisciano, C., Cocchi, L., De Astis G., De Benedetti, A.A., Devoti, R., Esposito, A., Giordano, G., Monecke, T., Stefanelli, P., Petersen, S., Pietrantonio, G., Rinaldi, A.P., Todesco, M. (2009) Monitoring shallow submarine hydrothermal system at Panarea (Aeolean Island, Italy): new geophysical, volcanological and geochemical data. Conferenza La vulcanologia italiana: stato della arte e prospettive future; Nicolosi (Catania) June 11.­13. 2009.
  • Monecke, T., Petersen, S., Lackschewitz, K., Hügler, M., Hannington, M.D., and Gemmell, J.B. (2009), Shallow submarine hydrothermal systems in the Aeolian volcanic arc, Italy, Eos Trans. AGU, 90(13), 110–111.

 2008 

  • Gemmell, J.B., Petersen, S., Monecke, T., Hannington, M., Lackschewitz, K., Augustin, N., Gibson, H., Perrin, K., Sharpe, R. and Simpson, K., 2008, Drilling of shallow marine sulphide-sulfate mineralisation in south-eastern Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy, AusIMM PACRIM Congress 2008, Conference Proceedings; p. 85-90.
  • de Benedetti, A.A., Esposito, A., Monecke, T., Petersen, S., and Giordano, G. (2008) New high resolution bathymetric data from Panarea (Aeolian islands) offshore: the bathymetry in the area of the Basiluzzo islet. IAVCEI 2008; Reykjavík, Iceland. August 17.-22. 2008.
  • Esposito, A., De Astis, G., Giordano, G., de Benedetti, A.A., Petersen, S., and Monecke, T. (2008) Drilling shallow submarine hydrothermal system at Panarea (Aeolean island, Italy): new volcanological and geochemical data. IAVCEI 2008; Reykjavík, Iceland. August 17.-22. 2008.
  • Petersen, S., Monecke, T., Augustin, N., De Benedetti, A.A., Esposito, A., Gemmell, J.B., Gibson, H., Giordano, G., Hannington, M.D., Kleeberg, R., Lackschewitz, K., Perrin, K., Peters, M., Sharpe, R., Simpson, K. (2008) Drilling of shallow water hydrothermal systems in the Aeolian Arc, Italy: The role of magmatic volatiles. 33 International Geological Congress, Oslo, August  06.-14. 2008, abstract MRD03317P.
  • Monecke, T., Petersen, S., Hannington, M.D., Augustin, N., Anzidei, M., Esposito, A., Garbe-Schönberg, D., Giordano, G., Hocking, M., and Melchert, B. (2008) Explosion craters associated with shallow marine gas venting at Panarea, Aeolian Islands, Italy. Joint Annual GAC-MAC-SEG-SGA Meeting Quebec, 26.-28. May 2008, p.115.
  • Monecke, T., Petersen, S., Augustin, N., De Benedetti, A.A., Esposito, A., Gaertner, A., Gemmell, B., Gibson, H., Hannington, M.D., He, G., Huegler, M., Kleeberg, R., Kuever, J., Kummer, N.A., Lackschewitz, K., Lappe, F., Perrin, K., Peters, M., Sharpe, R., Simpson, K., Smith, D., and Wan, B. (2008) Shallow marine sulfide mineralization in the southeastern Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy. Joint Annual GAC-MAC-SEG-SGA Meeting Quebec, 26.-28. May 2008, p.191.

 2007 

  • Petersen, S., Augustin, N., de Benedetti, A., Esposito, A., Gärtner, A., Gemmell, B., Gibson, H., He, G., Hügler, M., Kleeberg, R., Küver, J., Kummer, N.A., Lackschewitz, K., Lappe, F., Monecke, T., Perrin, K., Peters, M., Sharpe, R., Simpson, K., Smith, D., and Wan, B. (2007) Drilling of submarine shallow-water hydrothermal systems in volcanic arcs of  the Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy. EOS Trans. AGU, 88(52), Fall Meet. Suppl., abstract V34B-01.
  • Petersen, S., Monecke, T., Augustin, N., de Benedetti, A., Esposito, A., Gärtner, A., Gemmell, B., Gibson, H., He, G., Hügler, M., Kleeberg, R., Küver, J., Kummer, N.A., Lackschewitz, K., Lappe, F., Perrin, K., Peters, M., Sharpe, R., Simpson, K., Smith, D., and Wan, B. (2007) Drilling High-Sulfidation Mineralization at Palinuro Seamount in the Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy. In: A. Usui and C. Morgan (eds) Marine Minerals of the Pacific: Science, Economics and the Environment. 37th Underwater Mining Institute Abstract Volume, Tokyo Oct. 15-20, 2007.

Diploma- and Master thesis resulting from this project:

Christian Breuer "The role of magmatic volatiles in the formation of sulfates and sulfides in the off-shore area of Panarea, Äolian Island-arc, Italy" Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster. Master thesis 2010. 86 Seiten. 

Jan Dietel "Alterationsmineralogie von rezenten Hydrothermalsystemen am Palinuro Seamount, Thyrrhenisches Meer. Diploma-Thesis, TU Bergakademie Freiberg, 2009. 73 pp (In German). 

Anne Westhues "Massive sulfides drilled at a submarine volcanic complex associated with an island arc - Palinuro volcanic complex, Tyhhrenian Sea, Italy. Master Thesis, Uni Muenster / IFM-GEOMAR, 2009. 76 pp.