Volume 92, Issue B11 p. 11283-11290

Submersible observations along the southern Juan de Fuca Ridge: 1984 Alvin Program

First published: 10 October 1987
Citations: 35


In September 1984, the research submersible Alvin provided direct observations of three major hydrothermal vent areas along the southernmost segment of the Juan de Fuca Ridge (JFR). The submersible operations focused on specific volcanologie, structural, and hydrothermal problems that had been identified during the preceding 4 years of photographic, dredging, acoustic imaging, and geophysical studies along a 12-km-long section of the ridge. A continuously maintained (from 1981 to the present) net of seafloor-anchored acoustic transponders allowed the observations from Alvin to be directly tied to all previous U.S. Geological Survey data sets and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration water column surveys from 1984 to the present. The three vent areas studied are the largest of at least six areas identified by previous deep-towed camera surveys that lie within a deep cleft, which marks the axis of symmetry of the JFR in this region. The cleft appears to be the locus of eruption for this segment of the JFR. The vent areas, at least in part, are localized near what appear to be previous volcanic eruptive centers marked by extensive lava lake collapse features adjacent to the cleft at these sites. Each hydrothermal area has several active discharge sites, and sulfide deposits occur as clusters (15–100 m2) of small chimneys, individual large chimneys, or clusters of large branched chimneys. We review the dive program and present a brief synthesis of the geology of the vent sites together with sample and track line compilations.