Support of an AGU Chapman Conference: “Detachments in Oceanic Lithosphere: Deformation, Magmatism, Fluid Flow, and Ecosystems”



Since their discovery about 10 years ago, oceanic core complexes (OCCs) are now known to form by exhumation of large lithospheric sections by long-lived detachment faults along the flanks of mid-ocean ridges.  These structures have increasingly attracted the interest of a diverse group of geoscientists, and of biologists in more recent times, and are actively debated as representing, among many other things:

  • tectonic windows providing access to deep-seated rocks and processes, allowing studies of mantle flow, melt generation and migration, strain localization, and crustal accretion at mid-ocean ridge

  • a fundamental process in the generation of oceanic lithosphere that can be responsible for >50% of lithospheric accretion along slow and ultra-slow spreading centers

  • a system that provides a unique setting for sustaining both long-lived, high temperature hydrothermal circulation as well as low-temperature, hydrogen-rich, serpentinite-related hydrothermal systems, and their associated mineral deposits and micro- and macro-biota

  • a fault zone, containing weak hydrous alteration phases, that localizes strain over extended periods of time (in some instances up to a few million years), with associated flexure and rotation of the footwall

  • a key to understand continental metamorphic core complexes formed in settings of extreme tectonic extension, as well as to detachment faults associated with extensional magma-poor continental margins.

The increased interest of the scientific community in OCCs has led Dr. Javier Escartín (IGPP and WHOI Adjunct Scientist) and myself to organize and convene the first topical conference devoted exclusively to OCCs, detachment faulting, and associated geological, chemical, and biological phenomena.  The American Geophysical Union (AGU) is organizing this Chapman Conference, which will take place in Cyprus during May 2010.  WHOI is a world leader in OCC research, so we anticipate significant contributions from WHOI scientists and students to this conference.  This proposal will provide travel support for WHOI scientists and students to attend and participate in the conference.