Abstract Deep Sea Drilling Hole 245 (31°32′S, 52° 18′E) in the southwest Indian Ocean shows pronounced linear concentration-depth gradients in interstitial dissolved Ca, Mg and Sr. Electrical conductivity tests enable us to make the estimate of a constant diffusion coefficient with depth of about 2 × 10 −6 cm 2/sec. The shapes of the concentration-depth gradients suggest that the major reaction sites in this hole are situated in the basal sediments and/or underlying basalts. It is proposed that observed interstitial water concentration changes in Ca and Mg are related to alteration of basaltic material, whereas those in Sr are due to calcium carbonate recrystallization processes. Support for the basaltic material alteration hypothesis comes from petrochemical and mineralogical data. Geochemical data also indicate that the high contents in Fe and Mn of the basal sediments can be related to low temperature alteration of basaltic glass and not necessarily to ‘hydrothermal’ activity.