Self-potential mapping using an autonomous underwater vehicle for the Sunrise deposit, Izu-Ogasawara arc, southern Japan

Yoshifumi Kawada, Takafumi Kasaya

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    16 Citations (Scopus)


    We performed a simultaneous survey of self-potential and plume turbidity using an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) above the Sunrise deposit in the Myojin Knoll caldera of the Izu-Ogasawara arc. A 10-m-long electrode rod, on which five electrodes referenced with a common electrode were mounted, was connected at the tail of an AUV. The survey was conducted at a typical speed of 2 knots, covering the 1500 m × 1500 m area with a typical spacing of survey lines of 100 m. With AUV altitude of 100 m above the seafloor, a negative self-potential anomaly of a few millivolts was observed. The self-potential anomaly was found to spread 300 m × 300 m. The self-potential is probably attributable to the geo-battery mechanism: electric current is generated by redox reactions occurring around an ore body crossing a redox contrast. Assuming that the source of the self-potential is an electric current dipole, we can image a southward-dipping dipole with the moment of approximately 103 A m, approx. 30 m below the southern part of the ore deposit. Anomalies of turbidity, which are correlated to ambient temperature and which are signatures of discharged hydrothermal fluids, were distributed more broadly than the self-potential. Some turbidity anomalies were found without self-potential anomalies. They were probably transported by the ocean current. Spatial decoupling between the self-potential and turbidity anomalies suggests that the direct contribution of hydrothermal fluids to the self-potential anomalies is probably a secondary effect. The survey altitude of 100 m and the survey speed of 2 knots in the present study represent practical limitations for the self-potential survey when active hydrothermal fields are targeted. We have observed that the self-potential method responds exclusively to the presence of hydrothermal ore deposits. This behavior differs from other methods for exploring seafloor hydrothermal ore deposits: The geomagnetic method responds not only to ore deposits but also to volcanic bodies. The plume method can detect remote hydrothermal activities, but the source locations are not necessarily specified. The self-potential method is useful as an excellent exploration tool, particularly for initial surveys.[Figure not available: see fulltext.].

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number142
    Journalearth, planets and space
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2018 Dec 1


    • Autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV)
    • Hydrothermal ore deposits
    • Izu-Ogasawara arc
    • Marine self-potential method
    • Mineral exploration
    • Wide-area survey

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geology
    • Space and Planetary Science


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