EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

3D Seismic Imaging and Geophysical Characteristics of an Embryo Hydrothermal Field in the Southern Okinawa Trough

Ho-Han Hsu1,2, Liang-Fu Lin1, Tzu-Ting Chen1, Char-Shine Liu2, Jih-Hsin Chang3, Chih-Chieh Su1,2, and Song-Chuen Chen4
Ho-Han Hsu et al.
  • 1Institute of Oceanography, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan (
  • 2Ocean Center, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
  • 3Geological Survey of Japan, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Tsukuba, Japan
  • 4Central Geological Survey, Ministry of Economic Affair, Taipei, Taiwan

    Multi-scale geophysical survey including pseudo-3D seismic, sub-bottom profiling, side-scan sonar, multi-beam and single-beam bathymetry, heat flow investigations as well as bottom-water, core and dredge sampling works have been conducted in a newly discovered hydrothermal field named as Geolin Mounds at about 1,510 depth in the Okinawa Trough. Ship-mounted bathymetric data cannot detect specific morphological features on the seafloor in this field; however, “rock grove” morphological characteristics are observed by using deep-towed side-scan sonar. Moreover, vigorous flare features in water column are detected by multi-beam and single-beam echo sounder, and widely distributed high heat flow anomalies (> 10,000 mW/m2) also exist in the survey area. Due to strong Kuroshio Current during our multi-channel seismic survey, 5-40°streamer feathering effect occurred. To take advantage of swath distributed seismic reflection points caused by streamer feathering, we developed a pseudo-3D technique and produced a 3D seismic cube from this uneven seismic dataset. The 3D seismic imaging and sub-bottom profiling results indicate widely-distributed anomalies such as blanking zone and high-amplitude reflectors around the Geolin Mounds hydrothermal field and could link the specific features above seafloor. The 3D seismic cube also provides better estimation of the areas of blanking zone on selected time slice and better characterizes fault structures in the hydrothermal field. The geochemical analysis results present high Ag, Au, As, Bi, Cd, Cu, Fe, Pb, Sb, and Zn concentrations have been found in our coring and dredging samples. Relatively high concentration of methane, rare earth elements and 3He/4He ratio in near bottom seawater samples are also shown. Based on the geophysical and geochemical works, we propose that the Geolin Mounds hydrothermal field is without underlying submarine volcanos and hydrothermal fluid migration could be related to fault development. This hydrothermal field is in its embryo stage of evolution and constantly supported by active hydrothermal circulation. As a consequence, seafloor massive sulfides deposits and related geomorphological features can keep developing with hydrothermal fluid circulation along migration conduits. The fault structures and volcanic activities due to back-arc spreading process in the Southern Okinawa Trough should dominated creatures of those fluid migrating conduits.  We suggest that the Geolin Mounds hydrothermal field could sustainably grow and have high potential of massive sulfides resources in the Southern Okinawa Trough. Furthermore, this hydrothermal field can serve as a good observatory for get better understanding of seafloor edifice development and ore mineralization associated with hydrothermal circulation activities in a back-arc spreading tectonics.

How to cite: Hsu, H.-H., Lin, L.-F., Chen, T.-T., Liu, C.-S., Chang, J.-H., Su, C.-C., and Chen, S.-C.: 3D Seismic Imaging and Geophysical Characteristics of an Embryo Hydrothermal Field in the Southern Okinawa Trough, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-4063,, 2020