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AuthorsLupton, John* 
De Ronde, Cornel* 
Beker, Edward* 
Italiano, Francesco* 
Sprovieri, Mario* 
Bruno, Pier Paolo* 
Faure, Kevin* 
Walker, Sharon* 
TitleSubmarine Hydrothermal Activity on the Aeolian Arc: New evidence from Helium Isotopes
Issue Date15-Dec-2008
helium isotopes
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.02. Exploration geophysics::04.02.01. Geochemical exploration 
AbstractIn November 2007 we conducted a water-column and seafloor mapping study of the submarine volcanoes of the Aeolian Arc in the southern Tyrrhenian Sea aboard the R/V Urania. A total of 26 CTD casts were completed, 13 vertical casts and 13 tows. In addition to in situ measurements of temperature, conductivity, pressure and suspended particles, we also collected discrete samples for helium isotopes, methane, and trace metals. The helium isotope ratio, which is known to be an unambiguous indicator of hydrothermal input, showed a clear excess above background at 5 out of the 10 submarine volcanoes surveyed. We found the strongest helium anomaly over Marsili seamount, where the 3He/4He ratio reached maximum values of 3He = 23% at 610 m depth compared with background values of ~ 7%. We also found smaller but distinct 3He anomalies over Enerato, Eolo, Palinuro, and Secca del Capo. We interpret these results as indicating the presence of hydrothermal activity on these 5 seamounts. Hydrothermal venting has been documented at subsea vents offshore of the islands of Panarea, Stromboli, and Vulcano (Dando et al., 1999; Di Roberto et al., 2008), and hydrothermal deposits have been sampled on many of the submarine volcanoes of the Aeolian Arc (Dekov and Savelli, 2004). However, as far as we know this is the first evidence of present day hydrothermal activity on Marsili, Enerato, and Eolo. Samples collected over Filicudi, Glabro, Lamentini, Sisifo, and Alcioni had 3He very close to the regional background values, suggesting either absence of or very weak hydrothermal activity on these seamounts. Helium isotope measurements from the background hydrocasts positioned between the volcanoes revealed the presence of an excess in 3He throughout the SE Tyrrhenian Sea. These background profiles reach a consistent maximum of about 3He = 11% at 2300 m depth. Historical helium profiles collected in the central and northern Tyrrhenian Sea in 1987 and 1997 do not show this deep 3He maximum (W. Roether and B. Klein, private comm.). Furthermore, the maximum is too deep to be attributed to the volcanoes of the Aeolian Arc, which are active at <1000 m depth. We are currently conducting additional measurements to determine whether this deep 3He maximum is from a local hydrothermal source or is somehow related to the deep water mass transient which occurred in the eastern Mediterranean in the 1990’s.
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