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Tracking Water‐Rock Interaction at the Atlantis Massif (MAR, 30°N) Using Sulfur Geochemistry

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Liebmann J., Schwarzenbach E. M., Früh‐Green G. L., Boschi C., Rouméjon S., Strauss H., Wiechert U., John T.,
Project Hydration and carbonation of mantle peridotite: Drilling the Atlantis Massif (MAR 30°N) and the Samail ophiolite (Oman)
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Volume (Issue) 19(11)
Page(s) 4561 - 4583
Title of proceedings Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
DOI 10.1029/2018gc007813


Hydrothermal alteration and serpentinization of ultramafic rocks at oceanic core complexes involve extensive element exchange between fluid and rock and a wide range of biogeochemical processes. These processes influence the global sulfur cycle due to both biogenic and abiogenic removal of seawater sulfate. Hence, ocean floor serpentinization connects the hydrosphere, biosphere, and lithosphere. This work presents a study of the sulfur geochemistry of highly altered mafic and ultramafic samples from the Atlantis Massif located at 30°N along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The analyzed samples were drilled during International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 357 and collected during Alvin dives in 2000, 2003, and 2005. Multiple sulfur isotope analyses of sulfide and sulfate phases indicate that several processes took place during progressive hydrothermal alteration: (1) incorporation of seawater sulfate, (2) thermochemical sulfate reduction during interaction with high-temperature (high-T; 350–400 °C), low-pH fluids and input of H2S derived from leaching gabbroic intrusions, (3) microbial sulfate reduction, and (4) oxidation of sulfides at high water-rock ratios. Petrological examinations show that high-T fluids mostly postdated the bulk serpentinization and that these fluid pulses were relatively localized (<1 dm scale) resulting in a highly heterogeneous mineralogy. Locally, high-T fluid influx took place subsequent to microbial sulfate reduction and oxidation as indicated by geochemical modeling. Overall, this study documents the complex interplay of magmatic processes, fluid-rock interaction, and microbial activity that take place during the formation of oceanic core complexes and where mantle rocks are exposed to seawater.