25. Sea Water, Sea-Floor Spreading, Subduction, and Ore Deposits

  1. George H. Sutton,
  2. Murli H. Manghnani,
  3. Ralph Moberly and
  4. Ethel U. Mcafee
  1. J. B. Corliss

Published Online: 17 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM019p0297

The Geophysics of the Pacific Ocean Basin and Its Margin

The Geophysics of the Pacific Ocean Basin and Its Margin

How to Cite

Corliss, J. B. (1976) Sea Water, Sea-Floor Spreading, Subduction, and Ore Deposits, in The Geophysics of the Pacific Ocean Basin and Its Margin (eds G. H. Sutton, M. H. Manghnani, R. Moberly and E. U. Mcafee), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM019p0297

Author Information

  1. School of Oceanography, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 17 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1976

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900193

Online ISBN: 9781118663592



  • Geophysics—Pacific area—Congresses;
  • Woollard, George Prior, 1908


There is growing evidence that sea water hydrothermal systems serve to extract and transport metals initially disseminated in newly erupted submarine volcanic rocks, and that this is a fundamental geochemical process which influences the composition of sea water and has led to the formation of a variety of economically important ore bodies now preserved on the continents. This evidence includes: (1) observations of the effects of hydrothermal circulation in both dredged and cored oceanic crustal rocks; (2) the nature of the nearly ubiquitous basal metalliferous sediment layer in the oceans; (3) the pattern of heat flow over spreading centers; (4) anomalies in vertical profiles of suspended matter and dissolved gases in the deep oceans; (5) observations of submarine hot springs in Indonesia and the Mediterranean and on the crest of the Galapagos rift: (6) experimental investigations of sea waterbasalt interaction; and (7) observations of ore deposits which can be interpreted as resulting from submarine hydrothermal systems. Some examples of such ore deposits are: massive sulfides in Precambrian greenschist belts such as the Noranda deposits of the Abitibi belt in Canada; gold ores in possible Precambrian ‘metalliferous sediment' of the Homestake mine of South Dakota; the Precambrian Jerome, Arizona copper ores; the massive sulfides of the Troodos ophiolite complex on Cyprus, deposited in Cretaceous seas; and the Miocene Kuroko ore bodies in Japan. The hydration of oceanic crust during this process leads to the recycling of sea water first into the calc-alkaline magmas which form plutonic and volcanic rocks overlying subduction zones, and ultimately into the residual chloride-rich aqueous fluids which form during crystallization of these magmas. These fluids contribute to the formation of ore deposits accompanying the magmatic activity. These include the porphyry copper ore bodies and related vein-type deposits of western North and South America and the southwest Pacific.