Thibaut Barreyre


DOEI Postdoctoral Scholar
January 2014 - July 2015

I joined the DOEI postdoctoral program the end of January 2014, just after obtaining my Ph.D. in Paris, France.  My Research is focused on the study and understanding of sub-surface flow dynamics at hydrothermal systems.

Hydrothermal systems play a fundamentally important role in the transfer of heat and mass from the Earth’s interior to the oceans and the seafloor and provide a unique habitat for chemosynthetic biological communities in the deep biosphere.  Field-based observations indicate that flow rates and temperatures are highly variable over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales.  These observations demonstrate that hydrothermal systems respond to sub-surface processes such as earthquakes, magmatic activity, dissolution/precipitation of hydrothermal minerals, and the poroelastic response to tidal loading.  This variability directly impacts associated ecosystems' composition and productivity.

Although it has become clear that hydrothermal flow responds to a variety of extrinsic processes, we presently lack a conceptual framework for interpreting observations at individual vent fields in a global context.  Moreover, even at the scale of an individual field, we do not understand why perturbations affect some vents but not others, nor how the perturbations are partitioned between zones of diffuse and focused outflow.  My postdoctoral goal is to improve our understanding of the sub-surface dynamics of hydrothermal systems by developing a coherent framework for interpreting flow observations.

To achieve this I am using a multi-disciplinary approach to: (1) characterize flow variability at different mid-ocean ridge hydrothermal fields from in-situ temperature, pressure and current time-series data and (2) develop and apply analytical/numerical models relating flow variability to specific sub-surface processes.  Each of these two components represents a key piece of the overall puzzle of reconciling the observed variability at hydrothermal vents with realistic models of sub-surface processes and flow conditions.

This work is being done in collaboration with Dr. Rob Sohn and Dr. Dan Fornari in order to develop a consistent analytical framework that can be applied to all of the available datasets, thereby allowing us to characterize and correlate the flow dynamics (e.g. flow temperature and velocity) at different scales.  I am also collaborating with and using the valuable expertise of Dr. Adam Soule and Dr. M.K. Tivey.

I received my Ph.D. from the Institut de Physique du Globe (IPGP, France) and Paris-Diderot University (Paris 7, France) in November 2013.  My Ph.D. dissertation focused on ‘Dynamics and heat fluxes of Lucky Strike hydrothermal field'.  I also received a M.S. from the IPGP and Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS, France) in 2010 and a B.S. from ENS in 2008.