M. L. Coleman

California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, United States

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Publications (6)13.62 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Thirty years after the first discovery of high-temperature submarine venting, the vast majority of the global Mid Ocean Ridge remains unexplored for hydrothermal activity. Of particular interest are the world's ultra-slow spreading ridges which were the last to be demonstrated to host high-temperature venting, but may host systems particularly relevant to pre-biotic chemistry and the origins of life. Here we report first evidence for diverse and very deep hydrothermal vents along the ~110 km long, ultra-slow spreading Mid-Cayman Rise collected using a combination of CTD-rosette operations and dives of the Hybrid Remotely Operated Vehicle (HROV) Nereus in 2009 followed by shore based work-up of samples for geochemical and microbiological analyses. Our data indicate that the Mid-Cayman Rise hosts at least three discrete hydrothermal sites, each representing a different type of water-rock interaction, including both mafic and ultra-mafic systems and, at ~5000 m, the deepest known hydrothermal vent. Although submarine hydrothermal circulation, in which seawater percolates through and reacts with host lithologies, occurs on all mid-ocean ridges, the diversity of vent-types identified here and their relative geographic isolation make the Mid-Cayman Rise unique in the oceans. These new sites offer prospects for: an expanded range of vent-fluid compositions; varieties of abiotic organic chemical synthesis and extremophile microorganisms; and unparalleled faunal biodiversity - all in close proximity.
    AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts. 12/2010;
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Thirty years after the first discovery of high-temperature submarine venting, the vast majority of the global Mid Ocean Ridge remains unexplored for hydrothermal activity. Of particular interest are the world’s ultra-slow spreading ridges which were the last to be demonstrated to host high-temperature venting, but may host systems particularly relevant to pre-biotic chemistry and the origins of life. Here we report first evidence for diverse and very deep hydrothermal vents along the ~110 km long, ultra-slow spreading Mid-Cayman Rise. Our data indicate that the Mid- Cayman Rise hosts at least three discrete hydrothermal sites, each representing a different type of water-rock interaction, including both mafic and ultra-mafic systems and, at ~5000 m, the deepest known hydrothermal vent. Although submarine hydrothermal circulation, in which seawater percolates through and reacts with host lithologies, occurs on all mid-ocean ridges, the diversity of vent-types identified here and their relative geographic isolation make the Mid-Cayman Rise unique in the oceans. These new sites offer prospects for: an expanded range of vent-fluid compositions; varieties of abiotic organic chemical synthesis and extremophile microorganisms; and unparalleled faunal biodiversity - all in close proximity. Author Posting. © The Authors, 2010. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of National Academy of Sciences for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 107 (2010): 14020-14025, doi:10.1073/pnas.1009205107. This research was funded through NASA (ASTEP) and WHOI (Ocean Ridge Initiative).
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2010; · 9.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the first systematic characterization of the extent and distribution of hydrothermal activity along the previously unexplored Mid-Cayman Rise, Earth's deepest mid-ocean ridge as part of a NASA-funded ASTEP program.
    LPI Contributions. 04/2010;
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    ABSTRACT: The Mid-Cayman Rise, an isolated deep mid-ocean ridge, hosts all 3 known submarine vent-types AND the deepest vents known, making it an ideal natural laboratory for continuing studies of astrobiology, evolutionary biology and the origins of life.
    LPI Contributions. 04/2010;
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    ABSTRACT: We report the first systematic exploration for and characterization of hydrothermal vents and vent ecosystems on the short (~110 km), deep (> 5000 m), ultra-slow-spreading (<20 mm yr-1) Mid-Cayman Rise in the Caribbean Sea. This work was carried out aboard the RV Cape Hatteras in October-November 2009 as part of the ChEss Project of the Census of Marine Life, funded through NASA’s ASTEP program and represents the first scientific field program funded to use WHOI’s new hybrid deep submergence vehicle, Nereus, first in AUV mode then in ROV mode. Prior to this work, evidence for hydrothermal venting had been found on every active spreading center investigated, including the comparably ultra-slow spreading ridges in the SW Indian Ocean and in the Arctic (Mohns, Knipovich & Gakkel Ridges). The organisms colonizing vents are renowned for their endemicity, their adaptations to the extreme chemical and physical conditions encountered and for differences in species level from one ocean basin to another. Consequently, the identification of any organisms colonizing vents of the Mid-Cayman Spreading Center offers a critical opportunity to build upon our understanding of the dispersion of vent species and the potential role of the rise of the Isthmus of Panama (dating from ~5 Ma) as a vicariant event leading to the evolutionary divergence of Atlantic and Pacific vent faunas. Further, the MCSC is so deep that any vents present may occur at depths greater than all previously known vent systems, extending the known limits to life on our planet in terms of pressure, temperature, and vent-fluid chemistry. Finally, hydrothermal circulation through ultramafic rocks can generate abiotic synthesis of organic matter: an analog for the prebiotic basis for the origin of life on early Earth and Mars. In future years of this 4-year study, therefore, we will also aim to assess the relative importance of abiotic organic synthesis versus recycling of bio-organic material and/or chemical energy as the primary energy source for any ecosystems discovered.
    AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts. 11/2009; -1:08.
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    H.G.M. Eggenkamp, M.L. Coleman
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    ABSTRACT: Diffusive isotopic fractionation factors are important in order to understand natural processes and have practical application in radioactive waste storage and carbon dioxide sequestration. We determined the isotope fractionation factors and the effective diffusion coefficients of chloride and bromide ions during aqueous diffusion in polyacrylamide gel. Diffusion was determined as functions of temperature, time and concentration. The effect of temperature is relatively large on the diffusion coefficient (D) but only small on isotope fractionation. For chlorine, the ratio, D35Cl/D37Cl varied from 1.00128 ± 0.00017 (1σ) at 2 °C to 1.00192 ± 0.00015 at 80 °C. For bromine, D79Br/D81Br varied from 1.00098 ± 0.00009 at 2 °C to 1.0064 ± 0.00013 at 21 °C and 1.00078 ± 0.00018 (1σ) at 80 °C. There were no significant effects on the isotope fractionation due to concentration. The lack of sensitivity of the diffusive isotope fractionation to anything at the most common temperatures (0 to 30 °C) makes it particularly valuable for application to understanding processes in geological environments and an important natural tracer in order to understand fluid transport processes.
    Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 01/2009; · 3.88 Impact Factor