Hydrothermal Seepage of Altered Crustal Formation Water Seaward of the Middle America Trench, Offshore Costa Rica

TitleHydrothermal Seepage of Altered Crustal Formation Water Seaward of the Middle America Trench, Offshore Costa Rica
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsParsons, PKF, C. Wheat, G, Fisher, AT, Silver, EA, Hutnak, M
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Date Published01/2024
Keywordsformation water, hydrogeology, hydrothermal, Middle American Trench, pore water, ridge flank

Chemical compositions of sediment pore waters are presented from 13 piston and gravity cores that were collected on ∼24 Ma crust of the Cocos Plate seaward of the Middle America Trench and near the onset of crustal faulting from subduction. Cores were collected mainly within a 1.75 km2 area overlying a buried basement topographic high that supports an elevated heat flux, consistent with seawater transport within the upper volcanic crust. Systematic variations in pore water chemical profiles indicate upward seepage speeds (up to 1.7 cm yr−1 providing a net flux of 0.1 L s−1), constrain the chemical composition of the formation water within the underlying upper basaltic basement, and elucidate diagenetic reactions in the sediment. Relative to seawater, formation water has an elevated temperature (70–80°C) and concentrations or values of Ca, chlorinity, Sr, Ba, Li, Fe, Mn, Si, Cs, D/H, and Mo, and lower concentrations or values of Mg, Na, sulfate, alkalinity, TCO2, K, B, F, phosphate, 87Sr/86Sr, δ13C, δ18O, U, and Rb. Although this site is located only 30 km from the trench axis, there is no chemical evidence for subduction-related hydrologic influences. Instead, the data are explained by a combination of seawater-basalt reactions within the upper basement and diffusive exchange with overlying sediment, as part of a shallow, ridge-flank hydrothermal system. It is unclear why this site has an elevated heat flux relative to neighboring crust, but this may result from variations in crustal properties or modification related to flexural faulting outboard of the trench.