Focused fluid flow along the Nootka Fault Zone and continental slope, Explorer-Juan de Fuca plate boundary

Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
By: , and 



Geophysical and geochemical data indicate there is abundant fluid expulsion in the Nootka fault zone (NFZ) between the Juan de Fuca and Explorer plates and the Nootka continental slope. Here we combine observations from > 20 years of investigations to demonstrate the nature of fluid-flow along the NFZ, which is the seismically most active region off Vancouver Island. Seismicity reaching down to the upper mantle is linked to near-seafloor manifestation of fluid flow through a network of faults. Along the two main fault traces, seismic reflection data imaged bright spots 100 300 m below seafloor that lie above changes inbasement topography. The bright spots are conformable to sediment layering, show opposite-toseafloor reflection polarity, and are associated with frequency-reduction and velocity push-down indicating the presence of gas in the sediments. Two seafloor mounds ~15 km seaward of the Nootka slope are underlain by deep, non-conformable high amplitude reflective zones. Measurements in the water column above one mound revealed a plume of warm water, and bottom-video observations imaged hydrothermal vent system biota. Pore fluids from a core at this mound contain predominately microbial methane (C1) with a high proportion of ethane (C2) yielding C1/C2 ratios < 500 indicating a possible slight contribution from a deep source. We infer the reflective zones beneath the two mounds are basaltic intrusions that create hydrothermal circulation within the overlying sediments. Across the Nootka continental slope, gas hydrate related bottom-simulating reflectors are widespread and occur at depths indicating heat-flow values of 80 90 mW/m2.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Focused fluid flow along the Nootka Fault Zone and continental slope, Explorer-Juan de Fuca plate boundary
Series title Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
DOI 10.1029/2020GC009095
Volume 21
Issue 8
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description e2020GC009095, 26 p.
Country United States
State Oregon, Washington
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