Nontronite, the main metalliferous phase of the Galapagos mounds, occurs at a subsurface depth of ~2?20 m; Mn-oxide material is limited to the upper 2 m of these mounds. The nontronite forms intervals of up to a few metres thickness, consisting essentially of 100% nontronite granules, which alternate with intervals of normal pelagic sediment. The metalliferous phases represent essentially authigenic precipitates, apparently formed in the presence of upwelling basement-derived hydrothermal solutions which dissolved pre-existent pelagic sediment. Electron microprobe analyses of nontronite granules from different core samples indicate that: (1) there is little difference in major-element composition between nontronitic material from varying locations within the mounds; and (2) adjacent granules from a given sample have very similar compositions and are internally homogeneous. This indicates that the granules are composed of a single mineral of essentially constant composition, consistent with relatively uniform conditions of solution Eh and composition during nontronite formation. The Pb-isotopic composition of the nontronite and Mn-oxide sediments indicates that they were formed from solutions which contained variable proportions of basaltic Pb, introduced into pore waters by basement-derived solutions, and of normal-seawater Pb. However, the Sr-isotopic composition of these sediments is essentially indistinguishable from the value for modern seawater. On the basis of 18O/16O ratios, formation temperatures of ~20?30?C have been estimated for the nontronites. By comparison, temperatures of up to 11.5?C at 9 m depth have been directly measured within the mounds and heat flow data suggest present basement-sediment interface temperatures of 15?25?C.