Constraints upon water advection in sediments of the Mariana Trough

Abbott, Dallas Helen; Menke, William H.; Morin, Roger

Thermal gradient measurements, consolidation tests, and pore water compositions from the Mariana Trough imply that water is moving through the sediments in areas with less than about 100 m of sediment cover. The maximum advection rates implied by the thermal measurements and consolidation tests may be as high as 10−5 cm s−1 but are most commonly in the range of 1 to 5×10−6 cm s−1. Theoretical calculations of the effect of the highest advection rates upon carbonate dissolution indicate that dissolution may be impeded or enhanced (depending upon the direction of flow) by a factor of 2 to 5 times the rate for diffusion alone. The average percentage of carbonate is consistently higher in two cores from the area with no advection or upward advection than the average percentage of carbonate in three cores from the area with downward advection. This increase in average amount of carbonate in cores with upward moving water or no movement cannot be attributed solely to differences in water depth or in amount of terrigenous dilution. If the sediment column acts as a passive boundary layer, then the water velocities necessary to affect chemical gradients of silica are in the range 10−9 to 10−10 cm s−l. However, if dissolution of silica occurs within the sediment column, then the advection velocities needed to affect chemical gradients are at least 3×10−8 cm s−l and may be as high as 3×10−6 cm s−l. This order of magnitude increase in advection velocities when chemical reactions occur within the sediments is probably applicable to other cations in addition to silica. If so, then the advection velocities needed to affect heat flow ( >10−8 cm s−1) and pore water chemical gradients are much nearer in magnitude than previously assumed.


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Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth