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Training network on reactive geological systems from the mantle to the abyssal sub-seafloor

Periodic Report Summary 1 - ABYSS (Training network on reactive geological systems from the mantle to the abyssal sub-seafloor)

ABYSS is a Marie Curie Initial Training Network (ITN) funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7) and coordinated by Dr. Marguerite Godard from Géosciences Montpellier (CNRS, France). It is a training and career development platform for young scientists in Geodynamics, Mineralogy, Hydrodynamics, Thermodynamics and (Bio-)Geochemistry focusing on mid-ocean ridge processes and their environmental and economic impacts. It brings together 10 European research groups internationally recognized for their excellence in complementary disciplines and 4 Associated Partners from the Private Sector.

ABYSS will provide training for 12 Early Stage Researchers and 3 Experienced Researchers through a structured and extensive program of collaboration, training and student exchange. ABYSS aims at developing the scientific skills and multi-disciplinary approaches to make significant advances in the understanding of the coupled tectonic, magmatic, hydrothermal and (bio-)geochemical mechanisms that control the structure and composition of the oceanic lithosphere and the microbial habitats it provides. An improved understanding of these complex processes is critical to assess the resource potential of the deep- sea. ABYSS will specifically explore processes with implications for economy and policy-making such as carbonation (CO2 storage), hydrogen production (energy generation) and the formation of ore-deposits. ABYSS will also emphasize the importance of interfacial processes between the deep Earth and its outer envelopes, including microbial ecosystems with relevance to deep carbon cycling and life growth on the Primitive Earth. The ABYSS training and outreach programme is set up to promote synergies between research and industry, general public and policy makers. The main outcome of ABYSS will be twofold (i) develop a perennial network of young scientists, sharing a common technical and scientific culture for bridging the gaps in process understanding and make possible the exploitation of far off-shore mining of marine resources; (ii) to address the need to develop pertinent policies at the European and international level for preserving these unique environments.

ABYSS started on 1st March 2014 and during their first 24 months of collaboration (March 2014 – February 206), the ABYSS partners have worked together to launch a high level research training program which is now ongoing. All partners met in Montpellier (FR) in March 2014 for the Kick-off meeting. The recruitment of a talented team of researchers (12 early-stage researchers and 3 experienced researchers) was the first objective of the ABYSS training programme. It was set as a high priority for year 1 of the project (March 2014 – February 2015). By January 2015, a successful international recruitment process resulted in the hiring of 12 highly qualified early-stage researchers and 1 experienced researcher. The two remaining positions were filled in May (ER2) and November 2015 (ER3). Gender balance of 60% female is above the targeted level of 40% female researchers in ITNs. Amongst the 15 hired young researchers, 12 hold European nationalities (1 Dutch, 1 British, 1 Greek, 3 French, 2 Germans, 2 Italians, 2 Spanish), 1 comes from Russia, 1 from the United-States and 1 from Switzerland. Each fellow signed an employment contract with his/her Host Institution and Declarations on the conformity were submitted to the European commission. A Personal Career Development Plan (PCDP) and a Young Scientist Advisory Board (YSAB) were established for all 15 appointed researchers.

In November 2014, the first ABYSS Workshop, which reunited the network members, took place in Montpellier (FR). It was combined with a Supervisory Board meeting, YSAB meetings and a training meeting on the SeaRocks Blog, a student led outreach project. These meetings were followed by a visit of the IFREMER center of La Seyne-sur-Mer. The ABYSS mid-term meeting 1, which reunited the network members and two members of the ABYSS Scientific Advisory Board and included oral presentations by the trainees and lectures, took place in Hanover (DE) in May 2015. It was combined with a Supervisory Board meeting. It also was the opportunity to discussThe SeaRocks Blog progress. The ABYSS mid-term review meeting took place in Paris (FR) in October 2015. The coordinator presented her report and all the trainees presented the progress achieved in their PCDP. ABYSS received an excellent review, confirming a first positive evaluation of the functioning of the ITN by the network members at Month 10. The mid-term review meeting was immediately followed by the ABYSS workshop n°2, a Supervisory Board meeting and a second training meeting on scientific outreach. Four short-courses were offered since the beginning of the project: “Structure and processes building the Ocean Crust: Field trip to Cyprus” in April 2015, “Experimentation in Geology – Part 1” in May 2015, “The oceanic lithosphere: A state of the art of research and marine exploration techniques” combined with the ECORD summer school in September 2015 and “Advances in imaging and analytical techniques for (bio)petrology” in October 2015. The two specific practical outreach activities part of the ABYSS outreach programme were organized: ABYSS at “La fête de la Science” and the official launch of the SeaRocks blog (http://searocksblog.org/) self-managed by the ABYSS trainees at IPGP in Paris (FR) on October 9, 2015.

Assessment by the YSABs in Paris (FR), in October 2015, showed that all fellows has made important progress in their research progress and training. Notable successes to date, which have already been presented in major international conferences in Earth Sciences, include:

- Melt-dunite reaction experiments (ESR1) show the development of reaction textures that are comparable with natural occurrences. Step-cooled experiments produced layered samples made of ol-gabbro, ol-rich troctolite and dunite. The composition of olivine, plagioclase, and clinopyroxene show systematic variations along the capsule that can be used to model dissolution and precipitation processes able to generate ol-rich troctolites.
- Field and structural analyses on the Erro-Tobbio troctolites and gabbros (ESR2) allowed to distinguish between different types of troctolites, with clear field relations and textural variability, and to propose a model for the evolution of the different observed melt stages. The structural model will have to be tested and reconciled with the chemical data.
- Both ESR2 and ESR3 found textural heterogeneity of olivine grains within a single troctolite sample, from deformed coarse grains, to smaller, rounded, undeformed crystals. Detailed geochemical work (guided by EBSD phase deformation maps) has revealed that deformed and undeformed olivines show different geochemical signatures. Overall, this indicates multi-stage formation of troctolites, and confirm that the combined EBSD – in-situ mineral chemistry approach is powerful to investigate melt-rock interaction processes in olivine-rich gabbroic rock.
- Field and geochemical work on the Reinfjord intrusion (ER1) have outlined that parental melts had a picritic composition, and were dominantly affected by fractional crystallization and melt replenishment events, rather than crustal assimilation.
- Within experiments performed in ESR4, first amphiboles strongly enriched in chlorine (above 1 wt%) were produced by interaction between a rock (gabbro) and a high-saline fluid (brine) under melt-absent conditions. In these experiments, a high water-to-rock ratio was simulated by using one experimental result, adding fresh fluid and repeating the experiment under identical conditions.
- First Sr isotope analyses of hydrothermal veins in deep gabbros from the Oman ophiolite obtained within ESR5 reveal pervasive interaction between rock and seawater-derived fluids. Fine scale mapping opens the possibility to estimate the exact spacing of the hydrothermal vein system. A key observation is that the same fluid pathways were used both for high- and low-temperature hydrothermal veining.
- Experimental challenges in operating flow-through experimental apparatus have been overcome
- Numerical and stable isotope techniques are being developed to increase the power of the combined experimental/modeling approach of open systems
- The amount and distribution of serpentine has been shown to be key to understanding deserpentinisation-induced seismicity
- These processes are also related to a large mobility of CO2 in subductions zone system
- New evidence for abundant microbial colonization of subsurface basaltic habitats has been obtained


For complete details and regular updates visit our website: http://abyss-itn.eu/