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Mid-ocean Ridges


Rescue Mission on the Seafloor

Rescue Mission on the Seafloor

The two earthquake-monitoring instruments—each the size and weight of a small refrigerator—were glued to the ocean bottom by erupting lava…

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A Ridge Too Slow?

A Ridge Too Slow?

Ever since scientists first discovered vents gushing hot, mineral-rich fluids from the seafloor in the Pacific Ocean 30 years ago,…

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Scientists “See” New Ocean Floor Just Before and After It Is Created

A multidisciplinary research team from six institutions has for the first time successfully anticipated and then chronicled a seafloor eruption along the global mid-ocean ridge, the most active volcanic system on Earth. The event along the East Pacific Rise has provided researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) with a rare opportunity to observe what happens in the immediate aftermath of an eruption.

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Unraveling the Tapestry of Ocean Crust

Unraveling the Tapestry of Ocean Crust

Most people know that oceans cover about 70 percent of Earth’s surface. Fewer people realize that the crust beneath oceans and continents is fundamentally different. Why this is so remains a mystery that scientists are still trying to solve.

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New Ocean Crust

This animation shows a hypothetical sequence of how mid-ocean ridge lava flows can erupt on the seafloor and create new…

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Paving the Seafloor—Brick by Brick

Paving the Seafloor—Brick by Brick

Most of Earth’s crust is manufactured at the bottom of the sea. Deep beneath the waves and beyond our view, magma erupts along a 40,000-mile volcanic mountain chain that bisects the ocean floors and encircles the globe. The lava flowing from these mid-ocean ridges solidifies into new ocean crust that spreads out and paves the surface of our planet.

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Scientists Report New Type of Mid-Ocean Ridge in Remote Parts of the Earth

Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) have identified a new type of ocean ridge that is spreading so slowly that Earth’s mantle is exposed over large regions of the sea floor. Their findings of a new ultraslow class of ridge, reported in the November 27 issue of the journal Nature, offer a major change in thinking about the formation of the great crustal plates that make up the surface of the earth.

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International Expedition to the Top of the World May Hold Clues To Formation of Earth’s Crust

When the new U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker HEALY departs Tromso, Norway, July 31 for a two-month cruise across the Arctic Ocean, scientists won’t be studying the ice cap but the seafloor far below. Their focus will be the Gakkel Ridge, three miles beneath the ocean surface, the slowest spreading ridge on earth. It is a window into the earth’s interior scientists hope will help fill a gap in their knowledge of how the earth’s crust forms.

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Life on the Seafloor and Elsewhere in the Solar System

Life on the Seafloor and Elsewhere in the Solar System

The RIDGE program (Ridge Inter-Disciplinary Globe Experiments) was sharply focused on the global spreading center system, but the program’s goals were broadly defined. RIDGE was designed to explore the causes, consequences, and linkages associated with the physical, chemical, and biological processes that transfer mass and energy from the interior to the surface of the planet along the mid-ocean ridges.

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The Cauldron Beneath the Seafloor

The Cauldron Beneath the Seafloor

Just over 20 years ago, scientists exploring the mid-ocean ridge system first made the spectacular discovery of black smokers—hydrothermal chimneys made of metal sulfide minerals that vigorously discharge hot, dark, particulate-laden fluids into the ocean.

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The Big MELT

The Big MELT

More than 95 percent of the earth’s volcanic magma is generated beneath the seafloor at mid-ocean ridges.

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Hitting the Hotspots

Hitting the Hotspots

The great volcanic mid-ocean ridge system stretches continuously around the globe for 60,000 kilometers, nearly all of it hidden beneath the world’s oceans.

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Exploring The Global Mid-Ocean Ridge

Exploring The Global Mid-Ocean Ridge

There is a natural tendency in scientific investigations for increased specialization. Most important advances are made by narrowing focus and building on the broad foundation of earlier, more general research.

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