Graduation Year

2007

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.

Degree Granting Department

Marine Science

Major Professor

David F. Naar, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Kent A. Fanning, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert H. Byrne, Ph.D.

Keywords

submarine hydrothermal vents, multibeam bathymetry, GIS, Florida Platform

Abstract

In March of 2000, March of 2001, and April of 2002, multibeam bathymetry and backscatter data were collected, which revealed several low-temperature hydrothermal submarine springs in the Mudhole Submarine Springs (MHSS) area that were investigated by SCUBA divers. High-resolution multibeam sonar provides a precise way of defining the geomorphology of the seafloor. The bathymetry data were used to understand (1) vent geomorphology and how it varied from vent to vent; (2) spatial patterns of active vents compared to extinct vents and known land springs identified by Kohout (1977) and Breland (1980); and (3) potential correlations between geochemical and geomorphological characteristics of the vents in the study area. SCUBA observations show that MHSS, Spring #3, New Spring, Northern Rusty, Rusty, and Near Rusty are active springs, while Dormant Spring and Sinister Spring were extinct or inactive at the time of the March 2001 cruise.During the April 2002 cruise the locations of Rusty Spring, New Spring and MHSS were confirmed. Two submarine springs, Creature Hole and Sparky Lee were also confirmed. Spring #3 is the deepest spring and Dormant Spring is the shallowest.

There appears to be a rough spatial correlation between vents located on land and the vents on the seafloor, in which all known vents are either to the west or north of Lake Okeechobee. Vent distribution in the MHSS study area appears to correlate with the structural pattern of the local seafloor. Backscatter data and SCUBA observations show that fine to medium grain siliciclastic sediment bands overlie limestone hardbottom in a NE-SW orientation. Although vent geomorphologies are generally distinctive, vent activities generally correlate with the steepness of vent depressions.Most active vents had slopes of 6 degrees or greater, with the exception of Rusty Spring and Near Rusty Spring whose slopes ranged from 2.5 degrees and 6 degrees; whereas all the inactive vents had slopes of 5 degrees or less. Most active vents have "V"-shaped profiles versus the "U"-shaped profiles of most of the inactive vents. The inactive springs have shallower maximum depths and shallower ambient seafloor depths than the active vents.

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