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Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Deborah K. Smith

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Projects
» MAR, 13N

» Galapagos TJ

» Crack Interaction Model

» Remarkable Careers

» Data Management

» Puna Ridge


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The 3-D image shows a close-up of an active core complex at the edge of the spreading center.


Detachment Faulting and Core Complex Formation at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, 13N

Collaborators:
Hans Schouten, Javier Escartin, Joe Cann

The region of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) between the Fifteen-Twenty and Marathon fracture zones displays the topographic characteristics of prevalent and vigorous tectonic extension. Normal faults show large amounts of rotation, dome-shaped corrugated detachment surfaces (core complexes) intersect the seafloor at the edge of the inner valley floor, and extinct core complexes cover the seafloor off-axis. We have identified 45 potential core complexes in this region whose locations are scattered everywhere along two segments (13? and 15?N segments). Steep outward facing slopes indicate that the footwalls of many of the normal faults in these two segments have rotated by more than 30 degrees. The rotation occurs very close to the ridge axis (as much as 20? within 5 km of the volcanic axis ) and is complete by ~1 My, producing distinctive linear ridges with roughly symmetrical slopes. This morphology is very different from linear abyssal hill faults formed at the 14?N magmatic segment, which display a smaller amount of rotation (typically <15?). We suggest that the severe rotation of faults is diagnostic of a region undergoing large amounts of tectonic extension on single faults. If faults are long-lived a dome-shaped corrugated surface develops in front of the ridges and lower crustal and upper mantle rocks are exposed to form a core complex. A single ridge segment can have several active core complexes, some less than 25 km apart that are separated by swales. We have developed two models for multiple core complex formation: a continuous model in which a single detachment surface extends along axis to include all of the core complexes and swales, and a discontinuous model in which local detachment faults form the core complexes and magmatic spreading forms the intervening swales. Either model can explain the morphology that we observe.

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