1932

Abstract

Large serpentinite mud volcanoes form on the overriding plate of the Mariana subduction zone. Fluids from the descending plate hydrate (serpentinize) the forearc mantle and enable serpentinite muds to rise along faults to the seafloor. The seamounts are direct windows into subduction processes at depths far too deep to be accessed by any known technology. Fluid compositions vary with distance from the trench, signaling changes in chemical reactions as temperature and pressure increase. The parageneses of rocks in the mudflows permits us to constrain the physical conditions of the decollement region. If eruptive episodes are related to seismicity, seafloor observatories at these seamounts hold the potential to capture a subduction event and trace the effects of eruption on the biological communities that the slab fluids support, such as extremophile Archaea. The microorganisms that inhabit this high-pH, extreme environment support their growth by utilizing chemical constituents present in the slab fluids. Some researchers now contend that the serpentinization process itself may hold the key to the origin of life on Earth.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-marine-120710-100922
2012-01-15
2024-04-22
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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