Skip to main content


We’d like to understand how you use our websites in order to improve them. Register your interest.

Contribution of heat outputs from high- and low-temperature hydrothermal sources to the neutrally buoyant plume at the TAG hydrothermal mound, Mid-Atlantic Ridge


We provide an estimation of the heat output necessary to generate the neutrally buoyant plume above the TAG hydrothermal mound, Mid-Atlantic Ridge, located at 26°N, using a model of plume rise in a density-stratified environment with crossflow. The estimated heat output is 460 ± 40 MW. Previous studies have estimated that the heat outputs from high-temperature hydrothermal discharge and low-temperature diffuse flow at the TAG hydrothermal mound are 90 ± 20 MW and at least 780 MW, respectively. Consequently, the contribution of diffuse flow to make the neutrally buoyant plume is 370 ± 60 MW, which accounts for approximately 80% of the heat output to the neutrally buoyant plume. As this contribution is less than 50% of the total heat output from the diffuse flow, it is likely that more than 50% of the heat output from the diffuse flow dissipates in the ambient current.


  1. Baker, E. T. and G. J. Massoth, Characteristics of hydrothermal plumes from two vent fields on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, northeast Pacific Ocean, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 85, 59–73, 1987.

  2. Bemis, K. G., R. P. Von Herzen, and M. J. Mottl, Geothermal heat flux from hydrothermal plumes on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, J. Geophys. Res., 98, 6351–6365, 1993.

  3. Fujioka, K., K. Kobayashi, K. Kato, M. Aoki, K. Mitsuzawa, M. Kinoshita, and A. Nishizawa, Tide-related variability of TAG hydrothermal activity observed by deep-sea monitoring system and OBSH, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 153, 239–250, 1997.

  4. Ginster, U., M. J. Mottl, and R. P. Von Herzen, Heat flux from black smokers on the Endeavour and Cleft segments, Juan de Fuca Ridge, J. Geophys. Res., 99, 4937–4950, 1994.

  5. Goto, S., M. Kinoshita, A. Schultz, and R. P. Von Herzen, Estimate of heat flux and its temporal variation at the TAG hydrothermal mound, Mid-Atlantic Ridge 26°N, J. Geophys. Res., 108, 2434, doi:1029/2001JB000703, 2003.

  6. Humphris, S. E. and M. C. Kleinrock, Detailed morphology of the TAG active hydrothermal mound: Insights into its formation and growth, Geophys. Res. Lett., 23, 3443–3446, 1996.

  7. James, R. H. and H. Elderfield, Chemistry of ore-forming fluids and mineral formation rates in an active hydrothermal sulfide deposit on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Geology, 24, 1147–1150, 1996.

  8. Kawada, Y., S. Yoshida, and S. Watanabe, Numerical simulations of mid-ocean ridge hydrothermal circulation including the phase separation of seawater, Earth Planets Space, 56, 193–215, 2004.

  9. Kelley, D. S., J. A. Baross, and J. R. Delaney, Volcanoes, fluids, and life at mid-ocean ridge spreading centers, Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci., 30, 385–491, 2002.

  10. Kinoshita, M., R. P. Von Herzen, O. Matsubayashi, and K. Fujioka, Tidally-driven effluent detected by long-term temperature monitoring at the TAG hydrothermal mound, Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Phys. Earth Planet. Int., 109, 201–212, 1998.

  11. Lavelle, J. W. and M. A. Wetzler, Diffuse venting and background contributions to chemical anomalies in a neutrally buoyant ocean hydrothermal plume, J. Geophys. Res., 104, 3201–3209, 1999.

  12. Lunel, T., M. Rudnicki, H. Elderfield, and D. Hydes, Aluminium as a depth-sensitive tracer of entrainment in submarine hydrothermal plumes, Nature, 344, 137–139, 1990.

  13. Middleton, J. H., The rise of forced plumes in a stably stratified crossflow, Boundary-Layer Meteorol., 36, 187–199, 1986.

  14. Morton, B. R., G. I. Taylor, and J. S. Turner, Turbulent gravitational convection from maintained and instantaneous source, Proc. R. Soc. Lond. A, 234, 1–23, 1956.

  15. Rudnicki, M. D. and H. Elderfield, Theory applied to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge hydrothermal plumes: the finite-difference approach, J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 50, 161–172, 1992.

  16. Schultz, A. and H. Elderfield, Controls on the physics and chemistry of seafloor hydrothermal circulation, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. London Ser. A, 355, 387–425, 1997.

  17. Speer, K. G. and P. A. Rona, A model of an Atlantic and Pacific hydrothermal plume, J. Geophys. Res., 94, 6213–6220, 1989.

  18. Tivey, M. K., S. E. Humphris, G. Thompson, M. D. Hannington, and P. A. Rona, Deducing patterns of fluid flow and mixing within the TAG active hydrothermal mound using mineralogical and geochemical data, J. Geophys. Res., 100, 12527–12555, 1995.

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Shusaku Goto.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Goto, S., Gamo, T., Chiba, H. et al. Contribution of heat outputs from high- and low-temperature hydrothermal sources to the neutrally buoyant plume at the TAG hydrothermal mound, Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Earth Planet Sp 59, 1141–1146 (2007).

Download citation

Key words

  • Heat output
  • neutrally buoyant plume
  • high-temperature hydrothermal discharge
  • low-temperature diffuse flow
  • TAG hydrothermal mound