Figure 1 – Deep ocean ridges, valleys, and volcanoes. (credit Davey Jones Visualizations)


Knowledge concerning fluid flow of chemically charged seawater through and within very deep ocean rock layers is virtually unmonitored and until recently not researched. It is here contended that the flow rate, flow amount, and flow duration of these systems is many orders of magnitude greater than previously thought. As a result the affect these systems have on our climate has been dramatically underestimated.

Deep Ocean Rock Layer fluid Flow Systems are here contended to be an extremely important factor in influencing earth’s atmospheric climate, earth’s ocean climate, and earth’s ocean biologic communities by; controlling strong El Nino’s / La Nina’s, altering major ocean currents, locally altering polar ice cap melting, infusing the ocean with needed minerals, affecting ocean fish migration patterns, acting to maintain huge chemosynthetic communities, acting to spread new species, and acting to eliminate weak species.

The term Deep Ocean Rock Layer Mega-Fluid Flow Systems is here proposed to describe these huge features.

It is also here contended that these systems will be proved to be very unique/ different from land based hydrodynamic systems in many ways, and if proven correct this would be an extremely important new concept. Scientists have assumed that land based fluid flow / hydrologic systems would be a good analogy. It is here contended that this is an incorrect assumption. These deep ocean systems do not act like land based systems.

The major difference of deep ocean fluid flow systems is that they likely flow significantly greater amounts of heat and chemically charged fluid than previously realized. Deep ocean hydrothermal vents and cold seeps are here hypothesized be a just a small part of these here-to-for unrecognized and much larger deep ocean fluid flow systems. This is a very different way of perceiving fluid flow through deep ocean basin rock and sediment layers. To date most scientists have thought of deep ocean rock and sediment layers as basically bottom seals that largely did not and do not  interact with the overlying ocean.

It is here contended that these systems will be some day be proven to be immense, many of them covering huge regions and extending to great depths of many thousands of feet into ocean rock and sediment layers. In essence they will be found to be part of a continuum between the ocean crust, which they are part of, and upper mantle. Some of the perceived important differences between deep ocean fluid flow systems and land hydrologic systems are as follows.

  1. The regional fluid direction in deep ocean basin layers of variable permeability may be reversed from land based analogs. In land based systems higher elevation equals higher potential energy and therefore fluid flow from higher elevations toward lower elevations. The exact opposite is likely true of deep ocean basin hydrologic systems. Here the higher potential energy is lower due to taller seawater fluid column. As a result it logically follows that in these deep ocean basin systems the fluid should mostly flow from deeper to shallower. This will be proven to be the basic driver of strong fluid flow at mid-ocean spreading ridges. These ridges are slightly shallower and therefore slightly lower pressure.
  2. The larger of these deep ocean systems will be found to be associated with major deep ocean subduction and obduction trenches. First these are the deepest and therefore most pressured areas within the oceans. Secondly they represent giant faults that bring into juxtaposition many layered beds into contact with highly pressured, chemically charged, and variably heated seawater. This is an excellent recipe for huge fluid flow within the many “exposed layers”.
  3. These systems are dynamic and always changing driven by deep ocean pressure and heat flow from the mantle. Increased heat flow or major plate boundary earthquakes may act to quickly alter system flow.
  4. Unlike their land based analogies these sub-ocean hydrodynamic systems have access to an unlimited amount of fluid. So evaporation and transpiration are not important.
  5.  Close proximity to huge heat flow, especially at spreading centers.
  6. Greatly accelerated and rapidly changing digenetic affects are likely within the rocks that make up the varying permeability layers.
  7. Significantly greater methane generation and release, mostly from heat flow but also frombiogenic generation.
  8. Greatly increased fracturing especially in fused volcanic layers. Fracturing will be especially intense nearest active rifts and faults.
  9. Conversely very widespread top and bottom seal low perm layers of deep ocean mud.
  10. This makes for a very high perm contrast in layers.
  11. Variations in the flow rate and duration of these giant fluid flow systems are not necessarily directly related to obvious increases in volcanism and earthquake activity (seismicity). These giant systems may change due to other, possibly deeper crustal changes.
  12. Another reason many scientists have miss-computer modeled / miss-envisioned the El Nino’s and La Nina’s is that the old models just assume a “radiant” heat process. So heat flow from volcanoes and or faults acts to heat existing overlying seawater. This is NOT correct! The fluid outflow from these systems means you are not only heating by radiant proposes but also adding huge amounts of already heated and chemically charged fluid to the ocean.  This has not been properly modeled. This is also why El Nino plumes are differentially chemically charged and definitive in temperature profile, its basically although not totally, a separate pulse of seawater.
  13. These systems will likely have unique chemical signatures enabling scientists to map, track, and monitor their flow.
  14. Most importantly it is here contended the both the inflow and outflow from these deep ocean hydrologic / fluid flow systems will be found to be immense! Many times greater the land based hydrologic systems. This is an extremely important factor that has not been accounted for. This high fluid flow has the power to do many things; heat large areas of the ocean thereby generating El Nino’s, altering deep ocean current flows, and dramatically altering the chemistry of significant ocean areas.  When the heat is turned “off” within / under these systems they will still emit immense volumes of seawater for a time, just slightly cooler. This will account for La Nina’s. Fluid flow rate within these systems may be controlled in part by variable heating at or long the fault zones. The probable relationship to El Nino’s is very compelling.
  15. It is here contended that the fixed “Point Source” for all El Nino’s and La Nina’s in the western Pacific Ocean near the Solomon Islands is in affect related to a giant deep ocean fluid flow system. It is thought that this deep ocean region of the Solomon Island’s area is a major “outflow” area for one of these systems. When this outflow increases rate and temperature an El Nino is formed. When the outflow rate is still high and the temperature drops there is a La Nina. So in essence there really is not an El Nino or La Nina…just an increase outflow that cools but maintains rate. This concept does not preclude the idea that local heating at the outflow are has some affect.

Deep ocean fluid flow systems are likely complex and diverse, however it is here proposed that they be divided into four categories; tectonic plate spreading boundary, tectonic plate subduction boundary, plate tectonic transverse spreading boundary, and passive basinal.

Deep Ocean Fluid Flow Systems will be proven to be one of the most significant discoveries of the century. A bold prediction to be sure, but a prediction and concept that fits well into the Plate Climatology Theory.

James Edward Kamis is a Geologist and AAPG member of 41 years and who has always been fascinated by the connection between Geology and Climate. Years of research / observation have convinced him that the Earth’s Heat Flow Engine, which drives the outer crustal plates, is also an important driver of the Earth’s climate.