Magmatic heat and the El Niño cycle

Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union
By:  and 

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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 Niño 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 Niño sea surface anomaly at intervals of about 5 years (the mean interval of El Niño 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 Niño. 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 Niño events, such as that of 1982–1983. ©1988. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Magmatic heat and the El Niño cycle
Series title Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union
DOI 10.1029/88EO01176
Volume 69
Issue 45
Year Published 1988
Language English
Publisher AGU
Description 13 p.
First page 1553
Last page 1565
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