LIAO Shili, TAO Chunhui, LI Huaiming, ZHANG Guoyin, LIANG Jin, YANG Weifang. Use of portable X-ray fluorescence in the analysis of surficial sediments in the exploration of hydrothermal vents on the Southwest Indian Ridge[J]. Acta Oceanologica Sinica, 2017, 36(7): 66-76. doi: 10.1007/s13131-017-1085-0
Citation: LIAO Shili, TAO Chunhui, LI Huaiming, ZHANG Guoyin, LIANG Jin, YANG Weifang. Use of portable X-ray fluorescence in the analysis of surficial sediments in the exploration of hydrothermal vents on the Southwest Indian Ridge[J]. Acta Oceanologica Sinica, 2017, 36(7): 66-76. doi: 10.1007/s13131-017-1085-0

Use of portable X-ray fluorescence in the analysis of surficial sediments in the exploration of hydrothermal vents on the Southwest Indian Ridge

doi: 10.1007/s13131-017-1085-0
  • Received Date: 2016-05-05
  • Rev Recd Date: 2017-03-17
  • Hydrothermal plumes released from the eruption of sea floor hydrothermal fluids contain large amounts of ore-forming materials. They precipitate within certain distances from the hydrothermal vent. Six surficial sediment samples from the Southwest Indian Ridge (SWIR) were analyzed by a portable X-ray fluorescence (PXRF) analyzer on board to find a favorable method fast and efficient enough for sea floor sulfide sediment geochemical exploration. These sediments were sampled near, at a moderate distance from, or far away from hydrothermal vents. The results demonstrate that the PXRF is effective in determining the enrichment characteristics of the ore-forming elements in the calcareous sediments from the mid-ocean ridge. Sediment samples (>40 mesh) have high levels of elemental copper, zinc, iron, and manganese, and levels of these elements in sediments finer than 40 mesh are lower and relatively stable. This may be due to relatively high levels of basalt debris/glass in the coarse sediments, which are consistent with the results obtained by microscopic observation. The results also show clear zoning of elements copper, zinc, arsenic, iron, and manganese in the surficial sediments around the hydrothermal vent. Sediments near the vent show relatively high content of the ore-forming elements and either high ratios of copper to iron content and zinc to iron content or high ratios of copper to manganese content and zinc to manganese content. These findings show that the content of the ore-forming elements in the sediments around hydrothermal vents are mainly influenced by the distance of sediments to the vent, rather than grain size. In this way, the PXRF analysis of surface sediment geochemistry is found to satisfy the requirements of recognition geochemical anomaly in mid-ocean ridge sediments. Sediments with diameters finer than 40 mesh should be used as analytical samples in the geochemical exploration for hydrothermal vents on mid-oceanic ridges. The results concerning copper, zinc, arsenic, iron, and manganese and their ratio features can be used as indicators in sediment geochemical exploration of seafloor sulfides.
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