The hydrothermal systems that form at mid-ocean ridge (MOR) spreading centers represent perhaps the largest and most impactful geochemical phenomenon on Earth. There is 65,000 km of MOR encircling the globe, and the flow of water through the hydrothermal systems amounts to the entire volume of the oceans every 600,000 years. As seawater circulates through the volcanic rocks of the seafloor, a large amount of heat is exchanged, but also there is chemical exchange between the oceans and the rocks. This chemical exchange affects the composition of seawater and impacts global climate. It also affects the deep mantle because the altered rocks of the oceanic crust are eventually subducted. This talk will provide an overview of these interconnections, with a specific focus on new ideas about how the chemical composition of seawater, which has changed through geologic time, might affect how the system works.
Speaker: Don DePaolo, UC Berkeley
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