Researchers image deep magma beneath Pacific seafloor volcano

Mar 27, 2013
Researchers image deep magma beneath Pacific seafloor volcano
Study site for the 2004 expedition at the northern East Pacific Rise, a mid-ocean ridge volcano where new seafloor is created as the Pacific and Cocos tectonic plates diverge.

Since the plate tectonics revolution of the 1960s, scientists have known that new seafloor is created throughout the major ocean basins at linear chains of volcanoes known as mid-ocean ridges. But where exactly does the erupted magma come from?

Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego now have a better idea after capturing a unique image of a site deep in the earth where magma is generated.

Using electromagnetic technology developed and advanced at Scripps, the researchers mapped a large area beneath the seafloor off Central America at the northern East Pacific Rise, a seafloor volcano located on a section of the global mid-ocean ridges that together form the largest and most active chain of volcanoes in the solar system. By comparison, the researchers say the cross-section area of the melting region they mapped would rival the size of San Diego County.

Details of the image and the methods used to capture it are published in the March 28 issue of the journal Nature.

"Our data show that mantle upwelling beneath the mid-ocean ridge creates a deeper and broader melting region than previously thought," said Kerry Key, lead author of the study and an associate research geophysicist at Scripps. "This was the largest project of its kind, enabling us to image the mantle with a level of detail not possible with previous studies."

The deep melting region where magma is generated in the mantle beneath the mid-ocean ridge volcano. Green to red colors show regions of partially molten material created by upwelling due to the divergence of the Pacific and Cocos tectonic plates. This image was made by analyzing data collected by an array of seafloor electromagnetic instruments, shown as inverted triangles. Shaded colors in the upper panel show the seafloor topography around the survey region.

The northern East Pacific Rise is an area where two of the planet's tectonic plates are spreading apart from each another. Mantle rising between the plates melts to generate the magma that forms fresh when it erupts or freezes in the crust.

Data for the study was obtained during a 2004 field study conducted aboard the Roger Revelle, a ship operated by Scripps and owned by the U.S. Navy.

The marine electromagnetic technology behind the study was originally developed in the 1960s by Charles "Chip" Cox, an emeritus professor of oceanography at Scripps, and his student Jean Filloux. In recent years the technology was further advanced by Steven Constable and Key. Since 1995 Scripps researchers have been working with the energy industry to apply this technology to map offshore geology as an aid to exploring for oil and gas reservoirs.

"We have been working on developing our instruments and interpretation software for decades, and it is really exciting to see it all come together to provide insights into the fundamental processes of plate tectonics," said Constable, a coauthor of the paper and a professor in the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at Scripps. "It was really a surprise to discover that melting started so deep in the mantle—much deeper than was expected."

Key believes the insights that electromagnetics provides will continue to grow as the technology matures and data analysis techniques improve (last week Key and his colleagues announced the use of electromagnetics in discovering a magma lubricant for the planet's : http://phys.org/news/2013-03-hidden-magma-layer-scientists-lubricant.html).

"Electromagnetics is really coming of age as a tool for imaging the earth," said Key. "Much of what we know about the crust and mantle is a result of using seismic techniques. Now electromagnetic technology is offering promise for further discoveries."

Key also has future plans to apply electromagnetic technology to map subglacial lakes and groundwater in the polar regions.

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User comments : 10

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Lino235
1 / 5 (7) Mar 27, 2013
Vendicar:

Are you reading this? Do you understand my position better now?
Lino235
1 / 5 (7) Mar 27, 2013
"Our data show that mantle upwelling beneath the mid-ocean ridge creates a deeper and broader melting region than previously thought," said Kerry Key . . .


Vendicar: this is the quote I had in mind.
Caliban
5 / 5 (3) Mar 27, 2013
"Our data show that mantle upwelling beneath the mid-ocean ridge creates a deeper and broader melting region than previously thought," said Kerry Key . . .


Vendicar: this is the quote I had in mind.


So what?

This is an ongoing process which has been in a largely steady state for a about 3.5 billion years.

Once again, you ignore the fact that the process of seafloor spreading doesn't doesn't add heat to the the terrestrial climate on the scale which you claim is sufficient to account for the observed warming of the past 200-odd years.

Now, stop re-invoking this spurious argument.

StillWind
1 / 5 (11) Mar 27, 2013
[

This is an ongoing process which has been in a largely steady state for a about 3.5 billion years.

Once again, you ignore the fact that the process of seafloor spreading doesn't doesn't add heat to the the terrestrial climate on the scale which you claim is sufficient to account for the observed warming of the past 200-odd years.

Now, stop re-invoking this spurious argument.



Please reference any data to support the idea that this is "an ongoing process which has been in a largely steady state for a about 3.5 billion years."

This obviously can't be true if plate tectonics is also true.

Of course, anyone with even a basic understanding of the theory and the associated physics knows that the current paradigm cannot be true, but that is what passes for "science" today.

It is obvious that this contributes to global warming. It is responsible for El Nino, after tall, and much greater influence than some insignificant increase in a trace gas.
Maggnus
4.5 / 5 (8) Mar 27, 2013
Please reference any data to support the idea that this is "an ongoing process which has been in a largely steady state for a about 3.5 billion years."

This obviously can't be true if plate tectonics is also true.


This is confusing! According to zircon studies conducted by Naeraa and others on the West Greenland Tasiusarsuaq terrane, plate tectonics (which includes seafloor spreading by definition) have been ongoing for at least the last 3.2 billion years. So, yes it is true, and plate tectonics is also true, given the former is a part of the latter. Or are you talking about something else?

Of course, anyone with even a basic understanding of the theory and the associated physics knows that the current paradigm cannot be true, but that is what passes for "science" today.


Which theory? Are you talking about plate tectonics? Which paradigm? Slow down laddie, you're not making any sense.
Maggnus
4.5 / 5 (8) Mar 27, 2013
It is obvious that this contributes to global warming.


It is? How so? Do you mean more than just the normal amount of CO2 aded to the atmosphere by the planet at this and every other mid-ocean ridge on the planet?

It is responsible for El Nino, after tall,


No its not, totally off base there.

and much greater influence than some insignificant increase in a trace gas.


Oh, I think I'm starting to see why your all twitted up with your tectonics talk. Are you trying to suggest that the normal processes of tectonics on Earth are somehow responsible for the current climate warming the Earth's atmosphere is experiencing?
Caliban
5 / 5 (4) Mar 27, 2013
[

This is an ongoing process which has been in a largely steady state for a about 3.5 billion years.

Once again, you ignore the fact that the process of seafloor spreading [...]account for the observed warming of the past 200-odd years.

Now, stop re-invoking this spurious argument.



Please reference any data to support the idea that this is "an ongoing process which has been in a largely steady state for a about 3.5 billion years."

This obviously can't be true if plate tectonics is also true.

Of course, anyone with even a basic understanding of the theory and the associated physics knows that the current paradigm cannot be true, but that is what passes for "science" today.

It is obvious that this contributes to global warming. It is responsible for El Nino, after tall, and much greater influence than some insignificant increase in a trace gas.


What the Hell are you blathering about? This is basic Geophysics, well understood and quantified.
Neinsense99
3.2 / 5 (13) Mar 27, 2013
If you're going to use this as a red herring to create doubt about human-influences on climate, why don't you add something a bit different for variety, perhaps something like this being Xenu's alternative undersea lair and he's the one to blame?
Maggnus
4 / 5 (4) Mar 28, 2013
perhaps something like this being Xenu's alternative undersea lair and he's the one to blame?


What are you talking about!?! Its CLEARLY from the Zeta-Reticulans using their neutrino beaming technology to warm the deep ocean water! Gah anyone with a 1/2 a brain can see that!
Sean_W
1 / 5 (6) Mar 31, 2013
Solar activity correlates with climate. Geological processes don't. Carbon dioxide levels don't.

I would like to have seen just a little info on the new methods of gathering data which differ from the seismic methods.