Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 78, Issue 3, pp 240–254 | Cite as

An experimental investigation of high-temperature interactions between seawater and rhyolite, andesite, basalt and peridotite

  • Andrew Hajash
  • Gary W. Chandler


Natural seawater was allowed to react with rhyolite, andesite, basalt, and peridotite at 200°–500° C, and 1,000 bars at water/rock mass ratios of 5 and 50 in order to investigate the effects of rock type, water/rock ratio, and temperature on solution chemistry and alteration mineralogy. The results indicate that interactions of seawater with various igneous rocks are similar in the production of a hydrous Mg-silicate and anhydrite as major alteration products. Fluids involved in the interactions lose Mg to alteration phases while leaching Fe, Mn, and Si from the rocks. The pH of the solutions is primarily controlled by Mg-OH-silicate formation and therefore varies with Mg and Si concentration of the system. Other reactions which involve Mg (such as Mg-Ca exchange) or which produce free H+, cause major differences in fluid chemistry between different seawater/ rock systems. High water/rock ratio systems (50/1) are generally more acidic and more efficient in leaching than low ratio systems (5/1), due to relatively more seawater Mg available for Mgsilicate production. The experiments show that large-scale seawater/rock interaction could exert considerable control on the chemistry of seawater, as well as producing large bodies of altered rock with associated ore-deposits.

Active plate margins of convergence or divergence are suitable environments for hydrothermal systems due to the concurrence of igneous activity, tectonism, and a nearby water reservoir (seawater or connate water). The experimental data indicate that seawater interactions with igneous host rocks could generate many of the features of ore-deposits such as the Kuroko deposits of Japan, the Raul Mine of Peru, the Bleida deposit of Morocco, and deposits associated with ophiolites. Serpentinization of peridotite and alteration of igneous complexes associated with plate margins can also be explained by seawater interaction with the cooling rock. Geothermal energy production could benefit from experimental investigations of hot water/rock systems by development of chemical, temperature, and pressure control systems to maximize the lifetime of hydrothermal flow.


Peru Anhydrite Connate Water Geothermal Energy Altered Rock 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew Hajash
    • 1
  • Gary W. Chandler
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeologyTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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