Heat-flow and hydrothermal circulation at the ocean-continent transition of the eastern gulf of Aden

Francis Lucazeau*, Sylvie Leroy, Frédérique Rolandone, Elia d'Acremont, Louise Watremez, Alain Bonneville, Bruno Goutorbe, Doga Düsünur

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


In order to investigate the importance of fluid circulation associated with the formation of ocean-continent transitions (OCT), we examine 162 new heat-flow (HF) measurements in the eastern Gulf of Aden, obtained at close locations along eight seismic profiles and with multi-beam bathymetry. The average HF values in the OCT and in the oceanic domain (~. 18. m.y.) are very close to the predictions of cooling models, showing that the overall importance of fluids remains small at the present time compared to oceanic ridge flanks of the same age. However, local HF anomalies are observed, although not systematically, in the vicinity of the unsedimented basement and are interpreted by the thermal effect of meteoric fluids flowing laterally. We propose a possible interpretation of hydrothermal paths based on the shape of HF anomalies and on the surface morphology: fluids can circulate either along-dip or along-strike, but are apparently focussed in narrow "pipes". In several locations in the OCT, there is no detectable HF anomaly while the seismic velocity structure suggests serpentinization and therefore past circulation. We relate the existence of the present day fluid circulation in the eastern Gulf of Aden to the presence of unsedimented basement and to the local extensional stress in the vicinity of the Socotra-Hadbeen fault zone. At the scale of rifted-margins, fluid circulation is probably not as important as in the oceanic domain because it can be inhibited rapidly with high sedimentation rates, serpentinization and stress release after the break-up.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)554-570
Number of pages17
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes


This is IPGP contribution 2648. Data presented in this paper have been obtained during two surveys in the Gulf of Aden on the French R/V “Le Suroît” and “l'Atalante” (IFREMER/GENAVIR): we thank the crew of these two ships. We also thank our colleagues from Oman (Ali Al-Lazki, Khalfan Al-Toubi, Hilal Al-Azri, Salim Al Busaidi, Harub Al-Hashmi and Ali Al Rahji) for discussion and assistance in the field. We also acknowledge funding from GDR Marges , INSU-CNRS and ANR YOCMAL . This manuscript was improved substantially by comments from two anonymous reviewers.

FundersFunder number
GDR Marges
Agence Nationale de la Recherche


    • Fluids
    • Gulf of Aden
    • Heat-flow
    • Ocean-continent transition


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