Fine-scale heat-flow patterns at two areas of active venting in Middle Valley, a sedimented rift on the northern Juan de Fuca Ridge, provide thermal evidence of shallow hydrothermal reservoirs beneath the vent fields. The extreme variability of heat flow is explained by conductive heating immediately adjacent to vents and shallow circulation within sediments above the reservoir. This secondary circulation is hydrologically separated from the deeper system feeding the vents by a shallow conductive lid,within the sediments. A similar separation of shallow and deep circulation may also occur at sediment-free ridge-crest hydrothermal environments.
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