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Magmatic heat and the El Nino cycle

Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

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Abstract

Large submarine lava flows with apparent volumes exceeding 10 km3 have recently been imaged on the deep ocean floor in various parts of the Pacific by means of GLORIA and SeaMarc side-looking sonar surveys. Such flows may produce thermal anomalies large enough to perturb the cyclic processes of the ocean and could be a factor in the genesis of El Nino phenomena. We find that known volume rates of mid-ocean magma production could generate repetitive thermal anomalies as large as 10% of the average El Nino sea surface anomaly at intervals of about 5 years (the mean interval of El Nino events between 1935 and 1984). Likewise, estimated rates of eruption, cooling of lava on the seafloor, and transfer of heat to the near-surface environment could reasonably produce a thermal anomaly comparable to that associated with El Nino. Larger magmatic events, associated with fluctuations in the total magmatic power and seismicity along the East Pacific Rise, are possible at longer intervals and may explain the extreme size of some El Nino events, such as that of 1982-1983. -Authors

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Magmatic heat and the El Nino cycle
Series title:
Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union
Volume
69
Issue:
45
Year Published:
1988
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article