Geophysical and geochemical signatures of Gulf of Mexico seafloor brines
1Department of Marine Sciences, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA
2School of Physical and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, Texas, USA
3School of Biology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia 30332, USA
Abstract. Geophysical, temperature, and discrete depth-stratified geochemical data illustrate differences between an actively venting mud volcano and a relatively quiescent brine pool in the Gulf of Mexico along the continental slope. Geophysical data, including laser-line scan mosaics and sub-bottom profiles, document the dynamic nature of both environments. Temperature profiles, obtained by lowering a CTD into the brine fluid, show that the venting brine was at least 10°C warmer than the bottom water. At the brine pool, thermal stratification was observed and only small differences in stratification were documented between three sampling times (1991, 1997 and 1998). In contrast, at the mud volcano, substantial temperature variability was observed, with the core brine temperature being slightly higher than bottom water (by 2°C) in 1997 but substantially higher than bottom water (by 19°C) in 1998. Detailed geochemical samples were obtained in 2002 using a device called the "brine trapper" and concentrations of dissolved gases, major ions and nutrients were determined. Both brines contained about four times as much salt as seawater and steep concentration gradients of dissolved ions and nutrients versus brine depth were apparent. Differences in the concentrations of calcium, magnesium and potassium between the two brine fluids suggest that the fluids are derived from different sources, have different dilution/mixing histories, or that brine-sediment reactions are more important at the mud volcano. Substantial concentrations of methane, ammonium, and silicate were observed in both brines, suggesting that fluids expelled from deep ocean brines are important sources of these constituents to the surrounding environment.
Joye, S. B., MacDonald, I. R., Montoya, J. P., and Peccini, M.: Geophysical and geochemical signatures of Gulf of Mexico seafloor brines, Biogeosciences, 2, 295-309, doi:10.5194/bg-2-295-2005, 2005.