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Geophysical Monograph Series



  • Hydrothermal vents—Congresses
  • Hydrothermal deposits—Congresses
  • Hydrothermal vent ecology—Congresses

Index Terms

  • 3015 Marine Geology and Geophysics: Heat flow (benthic) and hydrothermal processes
  • 3035 Marine Geology and Geophysics: Midocean ridge processes
  • 3040 Marine Geology and Geophysics: Plate tectonics
  • 8135 Tectonophysics: Hydrothermal systems



Heat flow and hydrothermal circulation

Carol A. Stein

Geodynamics Branch, Code 921, NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center, Greenbelt, MD

Seth Stein

Geodynamics Branch, Code 921, NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center, Greenbelt, MD

Aristeo M. Pelayo

Department of Geological Sciences, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

Hydrothermal circulation through young oceanic lithosphere is one of the primary modes of interaction between the solid earth and the ocean/atmosphere system (Figure 1). This circulation occurs because newly formed young oceanic lithosphere cools as it moves away from the ridges. Although most of the cooling occurs by upward heat conduction through the lithosphere, significant cooling also occurs via circulation of cold sea-water through the rock. Thus hydrothermal circulation is a consequence of the plate tectonic cycle as are several other of the primary processes (e.g. volcanism and the uplift/erosion cycle) by which the solid earth interacts with the ocean and atmosphere.

Citation: Stein, C. A., S. Stein, and A. M. Pelayo (1995), Heat flow and hydrothermal circulation, in Seafloor Hydrothermal Systems: Physical, Chemical, Biological, and Geological Interactions, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 91, edited by S. E. Humphris et al., pp. 425–445, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/GM091p0425.


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