RIDGE: Tipping Points in the Evolution of Submarine Hydrothermal Systems: Rock Alteration Organic Transformation and Habitat Generation

Project: Research project

Project Details


1) Develop new models of how tipping points during mixing of hydrothermal fluids and seawater drives habitat generation for microbes. This will require including many disequilibria that have never before been considered in mass-transfer calculations. 2) Greatly expand affinity calculations for organic transformations in the wake of documented cases of abiotic hydrothermal synthesis. Now that there are constraints from natural and experimental systems, it will be possible to gain a deeper understanding of hydrothermal organic geochemistry, including the influence of tipping points in determining the outcomes of complex interactions. In the process we will greatly increase the variety and number of organic compounds included in these models. 3) Use the geochemistry of known hydrothermal fluids as guideposts for a new synthesis of the full potential of seafloor hydrothermal rock alteration. We will consider compositions of igneous basements including, but not limited to, MORB and ultramafic compositions already documented. The new models will explicitly account for solid solutions as both reactants and products, relative rates and explicit kinetics of water/rock reactions, and wide ranges of water-to-rock ratios that may prevail in diverse hydrologic settings. Products of these model calculations will feed back into the simulations of habitat generation and organic transformations. In all cases, new databases and theoretical approaches will be freely disseminated through the GEOPIG web site, with the goal of providing tools to the community of RIDGE researchers and others who want to tune theoretical modes to the specific observations they have made at Integrated Study Sites and elsewhere.
Effective start/end date10/1/099/30/13


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $521,875.00


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