Along- and across-axis variations in crustal thickness and structure at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at 5°S obtained from wide-angle seismic tomography: implications for ridge segmentation.

Planert, Lars, Flueh, Ernst R. and Reston, Timothy J. (2009) Along- and across-axis variations in crustal thickness and structure at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at 5°S obtained from wide-angle seismic tomography: implications for ridge segmentation. Open Access Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 114 . B09102. DOI 10.1029/2008JB006103.

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Abstract

Two end‐member styles of crustal accretion are observed at two adjacent spreading segments at the Mid‐Atlantic Ridge at 5°S: focused accretion to the segment center with rapid crustal thinning toward the transform in the northern segment and crustal thickening toward the transform at an oceanic core complex in the southern segment. Our results were obtained by tomographic inversion of wide‐angle seismic reflection and refraction data collected along three intersecting profiles. The segment north of the 5°S fracture zone is characterized by a well‐developed median valley with a pronounced seafloor bulge in the segment center. A discrete portion of anomalously low velocities (−0.4 to −0.5 km/s relative to average off‐axis structure) at depths of ∼2.5 km beneath this bulge is possibly related to the presence of elevated temperatures and perhaps small portions of partial melt. This suggests that this segment is currently in a magmatically active period, which is confirmed by the observation of fresh lava flows and ongoing high‐temperature hydrothermal activity at the seafloor. Close to the current spreading axis, the crust thins rapidly from 8.5 km beneath the segment center to less than 3 km beneath the transform fault which indicates that melt supply here is strongly focused to the segment center. The reduction in crustal thickness is almost exclusively accommodated by the thinning of velocity portions indicative of seismic layer 3. The transform fault is characterized by more uniform velocity gradients throughout the entire crustal section and very low upper mantle velocities of 7.2–7.3 km/s indicating that serpentinization could be as much as 25% at 3.5 km depth. In contrast, ∼4.1 Ma old crust of the northern segment shows only minor thinning from the segment center toward the segment end. Here, the transform is characterized by a normal seismic layer 2/3 transition suggesting robust melt supply to the segment end at those times. In the adjacent southern segment, the crust thickens from ∼2.5 km beneath the flank of an oceanic core complex to ∼5.0 km at the segment boundary. The observed changes in crustal thickness show a significant temporal and lateral variability in melt supply and suggest a more complex crustal emplacement process than predicted by models of focused melt supply to the segment centers.

Document Type: Article
Research affiliation: OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB4 Dynamics of the Ocean Floor > FB4-GDY Marine Geodynamics
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1029/2008JB006103
ISSN: 0148-0227
Projects: Future Ocean
Expeditions/Models/Experiments:
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2009 12:40
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2018 08:55
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/5553

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