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Guangyu Xu

Research Scientist/Engineer Senior





Department Affiliation



B.S. Ocean Technology, Ocean University of China (Qingdao, Shandong Province, China), 2008

M.S. Marine Sciences, University of Georgia, 2010

Ph.D. Marine Sciences, Rutgers University, 2015


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Hydrothermal activity and seismicity at Teahitia Seamount: Reactivation of the Society Islands hotspot?

German, C.R., J.A. Resing, G. Xu, I.A. Yeo, S.L. Walker, C.W. Dewey, J.W. Moffatt, G.A. Cutter, O. Hyvernaud, and D. Reymond, "Hydrothermal activity and seismicity at Teahitia Seamount: Reactivation of the Society Islands hotspot?" Font. Mar. Sci., 7, doi:10.3389/fmars.2020.00073, 2020.

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21 Feb 2020

Along mid-ocean ridges, submarine venting has been found at all spreading rates and in every ocean basin. By contrast, intraplate hydrothermal activity has only been reported from five locations, worldwide. Here we extend the time series at one of those sites, Teahitia Seamount, which was first shown to be hydrothermally active in 1983 but had not been revisited since 1999. Previously, submersible investigations had led to the discovery of low-temperature (≤30°C) venting associated with the summit of Teahitia Seamount at ≤1500 m. In December 2013 we returned to the same site at the culmination of the US GEOTRACES Eastern South Tropical Pacific (GP16) transect and found evidence for ongoing venting in the form of a non-buoyant hydrothermal plume at a depth of 1400 m. Multi-beam mapping revealed the same composite volcano morphology described previously for Teahitia including four prominent cones. The plume overlying the summit showed distinct in situ optical backscatter and redox anomalies, coupled with high concentrations of total dissolvable Fe (≤186 nmol/L) and Mn (≤33 nmol/L) that are all diagnostic of venting at the underlying seafloor. Continuous seismic records from 1986-present reveal a ~15 year period of quiescence at Teahitia, following the seismic crisis that first stimulated its submersible-led investigation. Since 2007, however, the frequency of seismicity at Teahitia, coupled with the low magnitude of those events, are suggestive of magmatic reactivation. Separately, distinct seismicity at the adjacent Rocard seamount has also been attributed to submarine extrusive volcanism in 2011 and in 2013. Theoretical modeling of the hydrothermal plume signals detected suggest a minimum heat flux of 10 MW at the summit of Teahitia. Those model simulations can only be sourced from an area of low-temperature venting such as that originally reported from Teahitia if the temperature of the fluids exiting the seabed has increased significantly, from ≤30°C to ~70°C. These model seafloor temperatures and our direct plume observations are both consistent with reports from Loihi Seamount, Hawaii, ~10 year following an episode of seafloor volcanism. We hypothesize that the Society Islands hotspot may be undergoing a similar episode of both magmatic and hydrothermal reactivation.

Dispersal of hydrothermal vent larvae at East Pacific Rise 9–10°N segment

Xu, G., D.J. McGillicuddy Jr., S.W. Mills, and L.S. Mullineaux, "Dispersal of hydrothermal vent larvae at East Pacific Rise 9–10°N segment," J. Geophys. Res., 123, 7877-7895, doi:, 2018.

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1 Nov 2018

A three‐dimensional, primitive‐equation, ocean circulation model coupled with a Lagrangian particle‐tracking algorithm is used to investigate the dispersal and settlement of planktonic larvae released from discrete hydrothermal habitats on the East Pacific Rise segment at 9–10°N. Model outputs show that mean circulation is anticyclonic around the ridge segment, which consists of a northward flow along the western flank and a southward flow along the eastern flank. Those flank jets are dispersal expressways for the along‐ridge larval transport and strongly affect its overall direction and spatial‐temporal variations. It is evident from model results that the transform faults bounding the ridge segment and off axis topography (the Lamont Seamount Chain) act as topographic barriers to larval dispersal in the along‐ridge direction. Furthermore, the presence of an overlapping spreading center and an adjacent local topographic high impedes the southward along‐ridge larval transport. The model results suggest that larval recolonization within ridge‐crest habitats is enhanced by the anticyclonic circulation around the ridge segment, and the overall recolonization rate is higher for larvae having a short precompetency period and an altitude above the bottom sufficient to avoid influence by the near‐bottom currents Surprisingly, for larvae having a long precompetency period (>10 days), the prolonged travel time allowed some of those larvae to return to their natal vent clusters, which results in an unexpected increase in connectivity among natal and neighboring sites. Overall, model‐based predictions of connectivity are highly sensitive to the larval precompetency period and vertical position in the water column.

Observation and modeling of hydrothermal response to the 2015 eruption at Axial Seamount, Northeast Pacific

Xu, G., W.W. Chadwick, W.S.D. Wilcock, K.G. Bemis, and J. Delaney, "Observation and modeling of hydrothermal response to the 2015 eruption at Axial Seamount, Northeast Pacific," Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 18, 2780-2797, doi:10.1029/2018GC007607, 2018.

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1 Aug 2018

The 2015 eruption at Axial Seamount, an active volcano at a depth of 1500 m in the Northeast Pacific, marked the first time a seafloor eruption was detected and monitored by an in situ cabled observatory — the Cabled Array, which is part of the Ocean Observatories Initiative. After the onset of the eruption, eight cabled and noncabled instruments on the seafloor recorded unusual, nearly synchronous and spatially uniform temperature increases of 0.6–0.7°C across the southern half of the caldera and neighboring areas. These temperature signals were substantially different from those observed after the 2011 and 1998 eruptions at Axial and hence cannot be explained by emplacement of the 2015 lava flows on the seafloor. In this study, we investigate several possible explanations for the 2015 temperature anomalies and use a numerical model to test our preferred hypothesis that the temperature increases were caused by the release of a warm, dense brine that had previously been stored in the crust. If our interpretation is correct, this is the first time that the release of a hydrothermal brine has been observed due to a submarine eruption. This observation would have important implications for the salt balance of hydrothermal systems and the fate of brines stored in the subsurface. The observation of the 2015 temperature anomalies and the modeling presented in this study also demonstrate the importance of contemporaneous water column observations to better understand hydrothermal impacts of submarine eruptions.

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center