Perfit Michael R.

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Michael R.

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  • Article
    Submarine Fernandina : magmatism at the leading edge of the Galapagos hot spot
    (American Geophysical Union, 2006-12-19) Geist, Dennis J. ; Fornari, Daniel J. ; Kurz, Mark D. ; Harpp, Karen S. ; Soule, Samuel A. ; Perfit, Michael R. ; Koleszar, Alison M.
    New multibeam and side-scan sonar surveys of Fernandina volcano and the geochemistry of lavas provide clues to the structural and magmatic development of Galápagos volcanoes. Submarine Fernandina has three well-developed rift zones, whereas the subaerial edifice has circumferential fissures associated with a large summit caldera and diffuse radial fissures on the lower slopes. Rift zone development is controlled by changes in deviatoric stresses with increasing distance from the caldera. Large lava flows are present on the gently sloping and deep seafloor west of Fernandina. Fernandina's submarine lavas are petrographically more diverse than the subaerial suite and include picrites. Most submarine glasses are similar in composition to aphyric subaerially erupted lavas, however. These rocks are termed the “normal” series and are believed to result from cooling and crystallization in the subcaldera magma system, which buffers the magmas both thermally and chemically. These normal-series magmas are extruded laterally through the flanks of the volcano, where they scavenge and disaggregate olivine-gabbro mush to produce picritic lavas. A suite of lavas recovered from the terminus of the SW submarine rift and terraces to the south comprises evolved basalts and icelandites with MgO = 3.1 to 5.0 wt.%. This “evolved series” is believed to form by fractional crystallization at 3 to 5 kb, involving extensive crystallization of clinopyroxene and titanomagnetite in addition to plagioclase. “High-K” lavas were recovered from the southwest rift and are attributed to hybridization between normal-series basalt and evolved-series magma. The geochemical and structural findings are used to develop an evolutionary model for the construction of the Galápagos Platform and better understand the petrogenesis of the erupted lavas. The earliest stage is represented by the deep-water lava flows, which over time construct a broad submarine platform. The deep-water lavas originate from the subcaldera plumbing system of the adjacent volcano. After construction of the platform, eruptions focus to a point source, building an island with rift zones extending away from the adjacent, buttressing volcanoes. Most rift zone magmas intrude laterally from the subcaldera magma chamber, although a few evolve by crystallization in the upper mantle and deep crust.
  • Article
    Geochemistry of lavas from the 2005–2006 eruption at the East Pacific Rise, 9°46′N–9°56′N : implications for ridge crest plumbing and decadal changes in magma chamber compositions
    (American Geophysical Union, 2010-05-12) Goss, Adam R. ; Perfit, Michael R. ; Ridley, W. Ian ; Rubin, Kenneth H. ; Kamenov, George D. ; Soule, Samuel A. ; Fundis, A. ; Fornari, Daniel J.
    Detailed mapping, sampling, and geochemical analyses of lava flows erupted from an ∼18 km long section of the northern East Pacific Rise (EPR) from 9°46′N to 9°56′N during 2005–2006 provide unique data pertaining to the short-term thermochemical changes in a mid-ocean ridge magmatic system. The 2005–2006 lavas are typical normal mid-oceanic ridge basalt with strongly depleted incompatible trace element patterns with marked negative Sr and Eu/Eu* anomalies and are slightly more evolved than lavas erupted in 1991–1992 at the same location on the EPR. Spatial geochemical differences show that lavas from the northern and southern limits of the 2005–2006 eruption are more evolved than those erupted in the central portion of the fissure system. Similar spatial patterns observed in 1991–1992 lavas suggest geochemical gradients are preserved over decadal time scales. Products of northern axial and off-axis fissure eruptions are consistent with the eruption of cooler, more fractionated lavas that also record a parental melt component not observed in the main suite of 2005–2006 lavas. Radiogenic isotopic ratios for 2005–2006 lavas fall within larger isotopic fields defined for young axial lavas from 9°N to 10°N EPR, including those from the 1991–1992 eruption. Geochemical data from the 2005–2006 eruption are consistent with an invariable mantle source over the spatial extent of the eruption and petrogenetic processes (e.g., fractional crystallization and magma mixing) operating within the crystal mush zone and axial magma chamber (AMC) before and during the 13 year repose period. Geochemical modeling suggests that the 2005–2006 lavas represent differentiated residual liquids from the 1991–1992 eruption that were modified by melts added from deeper within the crust and that the eruption was not initiated by the injection of hotter, more primitive basalt directly into the AMC. Rather, the eruption was driven by AMC pressurization from persistent or episodic addition of more evolved magma from the crystal mush zone into the overlying subridge AMC during the period between the two eruptions. Heat balance calculations of a hydrothermally cooled AMC support this model and show that continual addition of melt from the mush zone was required to maintain a sizable AMC over this time interval.
  • Article
    Channelized lava flows at the East Pacific Rise crest 9°–10°N : the importance of off-axis lava transport in developing the architecture of young oceanic crust
    (American Geophysical Union, 2005-08-18) Soule, Samuel A. ; Fornari, Daniel J. ; Perfit, Michael R.
    Submarine lava flows are the building blocks of young oceanic crust. Lava erupted at the ridge axis is transported across the ridge crest in a manner dictated by the rheology of the lava, the characteristics of the eruption, and the topography it encounters. The resulting lava flows can vary dramatically in form and consequently in their impact on the physical characteristics of the seafloor and the architecture of the upper 50–500 m of the oceanic crust. We have mapped and measured numerous submarine channelized lava flows at the East Pacific Rise (EPR) crest 9°–10°N that reflect the high-effusion-rate and high-flow-velocity end-member of lava eruption and transport at mid-ocean ridges. Channel systems composed of identifiable segments 50–1000 m in length extend up to 3 km from the axial summit trough (AST) and have widths of 10–50 m and depths of 2–3 m. Samples collected within the channels are N-MORB with Mg# indicating eruption from the AST. We produce detailed maps of lava surface morphology across the channel surface from mosaics of digital images that show lineated or flat sheets at the channel center bounded by brecciated lava at the channel margins. Modeled velocity profiles across the channel surface allow us to determine flux through the channels from 0.4 to 4.7 × 103 m3/s, and modeled shear rates help explain the surface morphology variation. We suggest that channelized lava flows are a primary mechanism by which lava accumulates in the off-axis region (1–3 km) and produces the layer 2A thickening that is observed at fast and superfast spreading ridges. In addition, the rapid, high-volume-flux eruptions necessary to produce channelized flows may act as an indicator of the local magma budget along the EPR. We find that high concentrations of channelized lava flows correlate with local, across-axis ridge morphology indicative of an elevated magma budget. Additionally, in locations where channelized flows are located dominantly to the east or west of the AST, the ridge crest is asymmetric, and layer 2A appears to thicken over a greater distance from the AST toward the side of the ridge crest where the channels are located.
  • Article
    Paleointensity applications to timing and extent of eruptive activity, 9°–10°N East Pacific Rise
    (American Geophysical Union, 2006-06-08) Bowles, Julie A. ; Gee, Jeffrey S. ; Kent, Dennis V. ; Perfit, Michael R. ; Soule, Samuel A. ; Fornari, Daniel J.
    Placing accurate age constraints on near-axis lava flows has become increasingly important given the structural and volcanic complexity of the neovolcanic zone at fast spreading ridges. Geomagnetic paleointensity of submarine basaltic glass (SBG) holds promise for placing quantitative age constraints on near-axis flows. In one of the first extensive tests of paleointensity as a dating tool or temporal marker we present the results of over 550 successful SBG paleointensity estimates from 189 near-axis (<4 km) sites at the East Pacific Rise, 9°–10°N. Paleointensities range from 6 to 53 μT and spatially correspond to the pattern expected from known temporal variations in the geomagnetic field. Samples within and adjacent to the axial summit trough (AST) have values approximately equal to or slightly higher than the present-day. Samples out to 1–3 km from the AST have values higher than the present-day, and samples farther off axis have values lower than the present-day. The on-axis samples (<500 m from the AST) provide a test case for using models of paleofield variation for the past few hundred years as an absolute dating technique. Results from samples collected near a well-documented eruption in 1991–1992 suggest there may be a small negative bias in the paleointensity estimates, limiting resolution of the dating technique. Possible explanations for such a bias include local field anomalies produced by preexisting magnetic terrain; anomalously high magnetic unblocking temperatures, leading to a small cooling rate bias; and/or the possibility of a chemical remanence produced by in situ alteration of samples likely to have complicated thermal histories. Paleointensity remains useful in approximating age differences in young flows, and a clear along-axis paleointensity contrast near 9°50′N is suggestive of a ∼150–200 year age difference. Paleointensity values of off-axis samples are generally consistent with rough age interpretations based on side scan data. Furthermore, spatial patterns in the paleointensity suggest extensive off-axis flow emplacement may occur infrequently, with recurrence intervals of 10–20 kyr. Results of a stochastic model of lava emplacement show that this can be achieved with a single distribution of flows, with flow size linked to time between eruptions.
  • Article
    Seafloor photo-geology and sonar terrain modeling at the 9°N overlapping spreading center, East Pacific Rise
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2013-12-20) Klein, Emily M. ; White, Scott M. ; Nunnery, James Andrew ; Mason-Stack, Jessica L. ; Wanless, V. Dorsey ; Perfit, Michael R. ; Waters, Christopher L. ; Sims, Kenneth W. W. ; Fornari, Daniel J. ; Zaino, Anne J. ; Ridley, W. Ian
    A fundamental goal in the study of mid-ocean ridges is to understand the relationship between the distribution of melt at depth and seafloor features. Building on geophysical information on subsurface melt at the 9°N overlapping spreading center on the East Pacific Rise, we use terrain modeling (DSL-120A side scan and bathymetry), photo-geology (Jason II and WHOI TowCam), and geochemical data to explore this relationship. Terrain modeling identified four distinct geomorphic provinces with common seafloor characteristics that correspond well to changes in subsurface melt distribution. Visual observations were used to interpret terrain modeling results and to establish a relative seafloor age scale, calibrated with radiometric age dates, to identify areas of recent volcanism. On the east limb, recent eruptions in the north are localized over the margins of the 4 km wide asymmetric melt sill, forming a prominent off-axis pillow ridge. Along the southern east limb, recent eruptions occur along a neovolcanic ridge that hugs the overlap basin and lies several kilometers west of the plunging melt sill. Our results suggest that long-term southward migration of the east limb occurs through a series of diking events with a net southward propagation direction. Examining sites of recent eruptions in the context of geophysical data on melt distribution in the crust and upper mantle suggests melt may follow complex paths from depth to the surface. Overall, our findings emphasize the value of integrating information obtained from photo-geology, terrain modeling, lava geochemistry and petrography, and geophysics to constrain the nature of melt delivery at mid-ocean ridges.
  • Article
    The Cleft revealed: geologic, magnetic, and morphologic evidence for construction of upper oceanic crust along the southern Juan de Fuca Ridge
    (American Geophysical Union, 2006-04-12) Stakes, Debra S. ; Perfit, Michael R. ; Tivey, Maurice A. ; Caress, David W. ; Ramirez, Tony M. ; Maher, Norman
    The geology and structure of the Cleft Segment of the Southern Juan de Fuca Ridge (JdFR) have been examined using high-resolution mapping systems, observations by remotely operated vehicle (ROV), ROV-mounted magnetometer, and the geochemical analysis of recovered lavas. Bathymetric mapping using multibeam (EM300) coupled with in situ observations that focused on near-axis and flank regions provides a detailed picture of 0 to 400 ka upper crust created at the southern terminus of the JdFR. A total of 53 rock cores and 276 precisely located rock or glass samples were collected during three cruises that included sixteen ROV dives. Our observations of the seafloor during these dives suggest that many of the unfaulted and extensive lava flows that comprise and/or cap the prominent ridges that flank the axial valley emanate from ridge parallel faults and fissures that formed in the highly tectonized zone that forms the walls of the axial valley. The geochemically evolved and heterogeneous nature of these near-axis and flank eruptions is consistent with an origin within the cooler distal edges of a crustal magma chamber or mush zone. In contrast, the most recent axial eruptions are more primitive (higher MgO), chemically homogeneous lobate, sheet, and massive flows that generate a distinct magnetic high over the axial valley. We suggest that the syntectonic capping volcanics observed off-axis were erupted from near-axis and flank fissures and created a thickened extrusive layer as suggested by the magnetic and seismic data. This model suggests that many of the lavas that comprise the elevated ridges that bound the axial valley of the Cleft Segment were erupted during the collapse of a magmatic cycle not during the robust phase that established a new magmatic cycle.
  • Article
    Extreme heterogeneity in mid-ocean ridge mantle revealed in lavas from the 8 degrees 20 ' N near-axis seamount chain
    (American Geophysical Union, 2020-12-14) Anderson, Molly ; Wanless, V. Dorsey ; Perfit, Michael R. ; Conrad, Ethan ; Gregg, Patricia M. ; Fornari, Daniel J. ; Ridley, W. Ian
    Lavas that have erupted at near‐axis seamounts provide windows into mid‐ocean ridge mantle heterogeneity and melting systematics which are not easily observed on‐axis at fast‐spreading centers. Beneath ridges, most heterogeneity is obscured as magmas aggregate toward the ridge, where they efficiently mix and homogenize during transit and within shallow magma chambers prior to eruption. To understand the deeper magmatic processes contributing to oceanic crustal formation, we examine the compositions of lavas erupted along a chain of near‐axis seamounts and volcanic ridges perpendicular to the East Pacific Rise. We assess the chemistry of near‐ridge mantle using a ∼200 km‐long chain at ∼8°20′N. High‐resolution bathymetric maps are used with geochemical analyses of ∼300 basalts to evaluate the petrogenesis of lavas and the heterogeneity of mantle feeding these near‐axis eruptions. Major and trace element concentrations and radiogenic isotope ratios are highly variable on <1 km scales, and reveal a continuum of depleted, normal, and enriched basalts spanning the full range of ridge and seamount compositions in the northeast Pacific. There is no systematic compositional variability along the chain. Modeling suggests that depleted mid‐ocean ridge basalt (DMORB) lavas are produced by ∼5%–15% melting of a depleted mid‐ocean ridge (MOR) mantle. Normal mid‐ocean ridge basalts (NMORB) form from 5% to 15% melting of a slightly enriched MOR mantle. Enriched mid‐ocean ridge basalts (EMORB) range from <1% melting of 10% enriched mantle to >15% melting of 100% enriched mantle. The presence of all three lava types along the seamount chain, and on a single seamount closest to the ridge axis, confirms that the sub‐ridge mantle is much more heterogeneous than is commonly observed on‐axis and heterogeneity exists over small spatial scales.
  • Article
    Lava geochemistry as a probe into crustal formation at the East Pacific Rise
    (The Oceanography Society, 2012-03) Perfit, Michael R. ; Wanless, V. Dorsey ; Ridley, W. Ian ; Klein, Emily M. ; Smith, Matthew C. ; Goss, Adam R. ; Hinds, Jillian S. ; Kutza, Scott W. ; Fornari, Daniel J.
    Basalt lavas comprise the greatest volume of volcanic rocks on Earth, and most of them erupt along the world's mid-ocean ridges (MORs). These MOR basalts (MORBs) are generally thought to be relatively homogeneous in composition over large segments of the global ridge system (e.g., Klein, 2005). However, detailed sampling of two different regions on the northern East Pacific Rise (EPR) and extensive analysis of the samples show that fine-scale mapping and sampling of the ridge axis can reveal significant variations in lava chemistry on both small spatial and short temporal scales. The two most intensely sampled sites within the EPR Integrated Study Site (ISS) lie on and off axis between 9°17'N and 10°N, and from a wide region centered around 9°N where two segments of the EPR overlap (see Fornari et al., 2012, Figure 3, in this issue). The chemical composition of erupted lavas, similar to the genotype of an organism, can be used by igneous petrologists to trace the evolution of magmas from the mantle to the seafloor. The extensive and detailed geochemical studies at the EPR highlight how a thorough understanding of the variability in lava compositions on small spatial scales (i.e., between lava flows) and large spatial scales (i.e., from segment center to segment end and including discontinuities in the ridge crest) can be used in combination with seafloor photography, lava morphology, and bathymetry to provide insights into the magmatic system that drives volcanism and influences hydrothermal chemistry and biology at a fast-spreading MOR.
  • Article
    Relative timing of off‐axis volcanism from sediment thickness estimates on the 8°20’N seamount chain, East Pacific Rise
    (American Geophysical Union, 2022-08-06) Fabbrizzi, Andrea ; Parnell-Turner, Ross ; Gregg, Patricia M. ; Fornari, Daniel J. ; Perfit, Michael R. ; Wanless, V. Dorsey ; Anderson, Molly
    Volcanic seamount chains on the flanks of mid-ocean ridges record variability in magmatic processes associated with mantle melting over several millions of years. However, the relative timing of magmatism on individual seamounts along a chain can be difficult to estimate without in situ sampling and is further hampered by Ar40/Ar39 dating limitations. The 8°20’N seamount chain extends ∼170 km west from the fast-spreading East Pacific Rise (EPR), north of and parallel to the western Siqueiros fracture zone. Here, we use multibeam bathymetric data to investigate relationships between abyssal hill formation and seamount volcanism, transform fault slip, and tectonic rotation. Near-bottom compressed high-intensity radiated pulse, bathymetric, and sidescan sonar data collected with the autonomous underwater vehicle Sentry are used to test the hypothesis that seamount volcanism is age-progressive along the seamount chain. Although sediment on seamount flanks is likely to be reworked by gravitational mass-wasting and current activity, bathymetric relief and Sentry vehicle heading analysis suggest that sedimentary accumulations on seamount summits are likely to be relatively pristine. Sediment thickness on the seamounts' summits does not increase linearly with nominal crustal age, as would be predicted if seamounts were constructed proximal to the EPR axis and then aged as the lithosphere cooled and subsided away from the ridge. The thickest sediments are found at the center of the chain, implying the most ancient volcanism there, rather than on seamounts furthest from the EPR. The nonlinear sediment thickness along the 8°20’N seamounts suggests that volcanism can persist off-axis for several million years.
  • Article
    Volcanic eruptions in the deep sea
    (The Oceanography Society, 2012-03) Rubin, Kenneth H. ; Soule, Samuel A. ; Chadwick, William W. ; Fornari, Daniel J. ; Clague, David A. ; Embley, Robert W. ; Baker, Edward T. ; Perfit, Michael R. ; Caress, David W. ; Dziak, Robert P.
    Volcanic eruptions are important events in Earth's cycle of magma generation and crustal construction. Over durations of hours to years, eruptions produce new deposits of lava and/or fragmentary ejecta, transfer heat and magmatic volatiles from Earth's interior to the overlying air or seawater, and significantly modify the landscape and perturb local ecosystems. Today and through most of geological history, the greatest number and volume of volcanic eruptions on Earth have occurred in the deep ocean along mid-ocean ridges, near subduction zones, on oceanic plateaus, and on thousands of mid-plate seamounts. However, deep-sea eruptions (> 500 m depth) are much more difficult to detect and observe than subaerial eruptions, so comparatively little is known about them. Great strides have been made in eruption detection, response speed, and observational detail since the first recognition of a deep submarine eruption at a mid-ocean ridge 25 years ago. Studies of ongoing or recent deep submarine eruptions reveal information about their sizes, durations, frequencies, styles, and environmental impacts. Ultimately, magma formation and accumulation in the upper mantle and crust, plus local tectonic stress fields, dictate when, where, and how often submarine eruptions occur, whereas eruption depth, magma composition, conditions of volatile segregation, and tectonic setting determine submarine eruption style.
  • Article
    Magmatic processes in developing oceanic crust revealed in a cumulate xenolith collected at the East Pacific Rise, 9°50′N
    (American Geophysical Union, 2006-12-12) Ridley, W. Ian ; Perfit, Michael R. ; Smith, Matthew C. ; Fornari, Daniel J.
    The petrology and geochemistry of a xenolith, a fragment of a melt-bearing cumulate, within a recently erupted mid-ocean ridge (MOR) lava flow provide information on petrogenetic processes occurring within the newly forming oceanic crust beneath the northern East Pacific Rise (NEPR). The xenolith reveals important petrologic information about MOR magmatic systems concerning (1) melt distribution in a crystal-dominated mush; (2) melt-crystal reactions within the mush; (3) the chemistry of melts that have contributed to the cumulate lithology; and (4) the chemistry of axial melts that enter the axial magma system. The xenolith was enclosed within a moderately primitive, normal mid-ocean ridge basalt (NMORB) erupted in 1991 within the neovolcanic zone of the NEPR, at approximately 9°50′N. The sample is a matrix-dominated, cumulate olivine anorthosite, composed of anorthite (An94-90) and bytownite (An89-70), intergranular olivine (Fo86±0.3), minor sulfide and spinel, and intergranular glass. Marginal corrosion of plagioclase, and possibly olivine, and internal remelting of plagioclase indicate syntexis. It is surmised that the pore volume was eviscerated several times with moderately primitive basaltic melts and reduced by intergranular crystallization of forsteritic olivine. The presence of anorthite as a cumulate phase in the xenolith and the observation of anorthite xenocrysts in NMORB lavas, and as a cumulate phase in ophiolite gabbros, indicate that Ca-rich melts that are not a part of the NMORB lineage play an important role in the construction of the oceanic crust.
  • Article
    Interplay between faults and lava flows in construction of the upper oceanic crust : the East Pacific Rise crest 9°25′–9°58′N
    (American Geophysical Union, 2007-06-07) Escartin, Javier E. ; Soule, Samuel A. ; Fornari, Daniel J. ; Tivey, Maurice A. ; Schouten, Hans A. ; Perfit, Michael R.
    The distribution of faults and fault characteristics along the East Pacific Rise (EPR) crest between 9°25′N and 9°58′N were studied using high-resolution side-scan sonar data and near-bottom bathymetric profiles. The resulting analysis shows important variations in the density of deformational features and tectonic strain estimates at young seafloor relative to older, sediment-covered seafloor of the same spreading age. We estimate that the expression of tectonic deformation and associated strain on “old” seafloor is ~5 times greater than that on “young” seafloor, owing to the frequent fault burial by recent lava flows. Thus the unseen, volcanically overprinted tectonic deformation may contribute from 30% to 100% of the ~300 m of subsidence required to fully build up the extrusive pile (Layer 2A). Many longer lava flows (greater than ~1 km) dam against inward facing fault scarps. This limits their length at distances of 1–2 km, which are coincident with where the extrusive layer acquires its full thickness. More than 2% of plate separation at the EPR is accommodated by brittle deformation, which consists mainly of inward facing faults (~70%). Faulting at the EPR crest occurs within the narrow, ~4 km wide upper crust that behaves as a brittle lid overlying the axial magma chamber. Deformation at greater distances off axis (up to 40 km) is accommodated by flexure of the lithosphere due to thermal subsidence, resulting in ~50% inward facing faults accommodating ~50% of the strain. On the basis of observed burial of faults by lava flows and damming of flows by fault scarps, we find that the development of Layer 2A is strongly controlled by low-relief growth faults that form at the ridge crest and its upper flanks. In turn, those faults have a profound impact on how lava flows are distributed along and across the ridge crest.
  • Article
    The formation of the 8˚ 20’ N seamount chain, east pacific rise
    (Springer, 2022-11-10) Romano, Valentina ; Gregg, Patricia M. ; Zhan, Yan ; Fornari, Daniel J. ; Perfit, Michael R. ; Wanless, Dorsey ; Battaglia, Maurizio ; Anderson, Molly
    Near-axis seamounts provide a unique setting to investigate three-dimensional mantle processes associated with the formation of new oceanic crust and lithosphere. Here, we investigate the characteristics and evolution of the 8˚20’N Seamount Chain, a lineament of seamounts that extends ~ 175 km west of the East Pacific Rise (EPR) axis, just north of the fracture zone of the Siqueiros Transform Fault. Shipboard gravity, magnetic, and bathymetric data acquired in 2016 are utilized to constrain models of seamount emplacement and evolution. Geophysical observations indicate that these seamounts formed during four distinct episodes of volcanism coinciding with changes in regional plate motion that are also reflected in the development of intra-transform spreading centers (ITSCs) along the Siqueiros transform fault (Fornari et al. 1989; Pockalny et al. 1997). Although volcanism is divided into distinct segments, the magnetic data indicate continuous volcanic construction over long portions of the chain. Crustal thickness variations along the chain up to 0.75 km increase eastward, inferred from gravity measurements, suggest that plate reorganization has considerably impacted melt distribution in the area surrounding the Siqueiros-EPR ridge transform intersection. This appears to have resulted in increased volcanism and the formation of the 8˚20’N Seamounts. These findings indicate that melting processes in the mantle and subsequently the formation of new oceanic crust and lithosphere are highly sensitive to tectonic stress changes in the vicinity of fast-spreading transform fault offsets.