Formation of hydrothermal pits and the role of seamounts in the Guatemala Basin (Equatorial East Pacific) from heat flow, seismic and core studies

Editors’ Highlight

Hydrothermal fluid flow in the oceans takes many forms.  In this paper, Villinger et al. explore features, specifically pits in sediments on the equatoria Pacitic Ocean floor, that have long been observed, but only recently recognized as fluid flow related features. Their investigation shows that these are sites of hydrothermal discharge. Since these discharge sites are relatively small and sparcely distributed on the ocean floor, heat flow observations generally miss these regions leading to a systematic bias in the total heat lost through the oceanic lithosphere.  By identifying these zones, their frequency and collecting heat flow data, it may now be possible to develop more robust averages of oceanic heat loss and develop more accurate models of temperatures of subducting slabs.

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