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Images: New Wrinkles in the Fabric of the Seafloor

This seafloor map shows the area along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) where WHOI geophysicist Deborah Smith and colleagues found core complexes in various stages of formation. It is located between Africa and South America between the Marathon and Fifteen Twenty fracture zones. Stars in the left panel indicate known hydrothermal vent fields along the mid-ocean ridge (indicated by the black line). Red dots on the right panel indicate seismic activity?earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or submarine landslides?that the scientists detected using underwater hydrophones. (Deborah Smith, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

This seafloor map offers a more detailed view of the study area west of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (thick black lines) between the Fifteen Twenty (top) and Marathon fracture zones (linear blue areas). Purples stars in the righthand map indicate core complexes. Note that different areas (delineated by thin black lines) have ocean crust that is either relatively smooth or blocky, chaotic, and full of core complexes. The ocean crust in each area is formed by a different process. (Deborah Smith, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

The core complexes are the orange-yellow domes on the top map (they are not orange-yellow in reality!). The bottom panel shows a close-up view of one core complex, including its ?corrugations??grooves that formed over hundreds of thousands of years as blocks of rock slide against each other along a detachment fault. (Deborah Smith, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

WHOI geophysicists Deborah Smith and Hans Schouten (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

WHOI marine geologist Brian Tucholke (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)