Researchers trace flow over long distances
Researchers have discovered a pair of seamounts on the ocean floor that serve as inflow and outflow points for a vast plumbing system that circulates water through the seafloor. The seamounts are separated by more than 30 miles (52 kilometers).
"One big underwater volcano is sucking in seawater, and the water flows north through the rocks of the seafloor and comes out through another seamount," said Andrew Fisher, an associate professor of Earth sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Scientists have known for decades that enormous quantities of ocean water circulate through the seafloor, flowing through the porous volcanic rock of the upper oceanic crust. In the process, the water extracts large amounts of heat from the crust, which is warmed by the constant flow of heat out of the Earths interior. The mystery has been how the water gets in and out of the crust, most of which is covered by a thick layer of relatively impermeable sediments.
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