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Shallow seafloor gas emissions near Heard and McDonald Islands on the Kerguelen Plateau, southern Indian Ocean


Spain, EA and Johnson, SC and Hutton, B and Whittaker, JM and Lucieer, V and Watson, SJ and Fox, JM and Lupton, J and Arculus, R and Bradney, A and Coffin, MF, Shallow seafloor gas emissions near Heard and McDonald Islands on the Kerguelen Plateau, southern Indian Ocean, Earth and Space Science, 7, (3) Article e2019EA000695. ISSN 2333-5084 (2019) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2019 the authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1029/2019EA000695


Bubble emission mechanisms from submerged Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs) remains enigmatic. The Kerguelen Plateau, a LIP in the southern Indian Ocean, has a long‐sustained history of active volcanism and glacial/interglacial cycles of sedimentation, both of which may cause seafloor bubble production. We present the results of hydroacoustic flare observations around the under‐explored volcanically‐active Heard Island and McDonald Islands on the Central Kerguelen Plateau. Flares were observed with a split‐beam echosounder and characterized using multi‐frequency decibel differencing. Deep‐tow camera footage, water properties, water‐column δ3He, sub‐bottom profile, and sediment δ13C and δ34S data were analyzed to consider flare mechanisms. Excess δ3He near McDonald Islands seeps, indicating mantle‐derived input, suggests proximal hydrothermal activity; McDonald Islands flares may thus indicate CO2, methane, and other minor gas bubbles associated with shallow diffuse hydrothermal venting. The Heard Island seep environment, with sub‐bottom acoustic blanking in thick sediment, muted 3He signal, and δ13C and δ34S fractionation factors, suggest Heard seeps may either be methane gas (possibly both shallow biogenic methane and deeper‐sourced thermogenic methane related to geothermal heat from onshore volcanism) or a combination of methane and CO2, such as seen in sediment‐hosted geothermal systems (Procesi et al., 2019). These data provide the first evidence of submarine gas escape on the Central Kerguelen Plateau and expand our understanding of seafloor processes and carbon cycling in the data‐poor southern Indian Ocean. Extensive sedimentation of the Kerguelen Plateau and additional zones of submarine volcanic activity mean additional seeps or vents may lie outside the small survey area proximal to the islands.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:seeps, seafloor, Kerguelen, Heard Island, Large Igneous Province, hydroacoustic flares, cold methane seep, shallow hydrothermal, geothermal gas bubbles
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Geology
Research Field:Marine geoscience
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences
UTAS Author:Spain, EA (Miss Erica Spain)
UTAS Author:Johnson, SC (Mr Sean Johnson)
UTAS Author:Whittaker, JM (Associate Professor Jo Whittaker)
UTAS Author:Lucieer, V (Associate Professor Vanessa Lucieer)
UTAS Author:Watson, SJ (Ms Sally Watson)
UTAS Author:Fox, JM (Dr Jodi Fox)
UTAS Author:Coffin, MF (Professor Mike Coffin)
ID Code:136488
Year Published:2019
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DE140100376)
Web of Science® Times Cited:3
Deposited By:Oceans and Cryosphere
Deposited On:2019-12-24
Last Modified:2020-04-08
Downloads:14 View Download Statistics

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