A noninvasive method for measuring the velocity of diffuse hydrothermal flow by tracking moving refractive index anomalies

Diffuse flow velocimetry (DFV) is introduced as a new, noninvasive, optical technique for measuring the velocity of diffuse hydrothermal flow. The technique uses images of a motionless, random medium (e.g.,rocks) obtained through the lens of a moving refraction index anomaly (e.g., a hot upwelling). The method works in two stages. First, the changes in apparent background deformation are calculated using particle image velocimetry (PIV). The deformation vectors are determined by a cross correlation of pixel intensities across consecutive images. Second, the 2-D velocity field is calculated by cross correlating the deformation vectors between consecutive PIV calculations. The accuracy of the method is tested with laboratory and numerical experiments of a laminar, axisymmetric plume in fluids with both constant and temperaturedependent viscosity. Results show that average RMS errors are ∼5%–7% and are most accurate in regions of pervasive apparent background deformation which is commonly encountered in regions of diffuse hydrothermal flow. The method is applied to a 25 s video sequence of diffuse flow from a small fracture captured during the Bathyluck’09 cruise to the Lucky Strike hydrothermal field (September 2009). The velocities of the ∼10°C–15°C effluent reach ∼5.5 cm/s, in strong agreement with previous measurements of diffuse flow. DFV is found to be most accurate for approximately 2‐D flows where background objects have a small spatial scale, such as sand or gravel ​
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