Behn Mark D.

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Mark D.

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  • Article
    Mantle flow and melting underneath oblique and ultraslow mid-ocean ridges
    (American Geophysical Union, 2007-12-25) Montesi, Laurent G. J. ; Behn, Mark D.
    Mid-ocean ridge morphology correlates strongly with spreading rate. As the spreading rate decreases, conductive cooling becomes more important in controlling ridge thermal structure and the axial lithosphere thickens. At ultraslow spreading rates, the ridge axis becomes sufficiently cold that peridotite blocks are emplaced directly at the seafloor and volcanism is limited to localized volcanic centers widely spaced along the ridge axis. Some slow-spreading ridges adopt an ultraslow morphology when their axis is oblique to the spreading direction. We present an analytical solution for mantle flow beneath an oblique ridge and demonstrate that the thermal structure and crustal thickness are controlled by the effective spreading rate (product of the plate separation velocity and the cosine of obliquity). A global compilation of oblique ridges reveals that ultraslow morphology corresponds to effective half rates less than 6.5 mm/yr, resulting in lithosphere that is thicker than ~30 km. We conclude that the transition from slow to ultraslow spreading is not related to a change of melt productivity but rather in the efficiency of vertical melt extraction.
  • Preprint
    Fracture propagation to the base of the Greenland Ice Sheet during supraglacial lake drainage
    ( 2008-02-20) Das, Sarah B. ; Joughin, Ian ; Behn, Mark D. ; Howat, Ian M. ; King, Matt A. ; Lizarralde, Daniel ; Bhatia, Maya P.
    Surface meltwater that reaches the base of an ice sheet creates a mechanism for the rapid response of ice flow to climate change. The process whereby such a pathway is created through thick, cold ice has not, however, been previously observed. We describe the rapid (<2 hours) drainage of a large supraglacial lake down 980 m through to the bed of the Greenland Ice Sheet initiated by water-driven fracture propagation evolving into moulin flow. Drainage coincided with increased seismicity, transient acceleration, ice sheet uplift and horizontal displacement. Subsidence and deceleration occurred over the following 24 hours. The short-lived dynamic response suggests an efficient drainage system dispersed the meltwater subglacially. The integrated effect of multiple lake drainages could explain the observed net regional summer ice speedup.
  • Thesis
    The evolution of lithospheric deformation and crustal structure from continental margins to oceanic spreading centers
    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2002-06) Behn, Mark D.
    This thesis investigates the evolution of lithospheric deformation and crustal structure from continental margins to mid-ocean ridges. The first part (Ch. 2) examines the style of segmentation along the U.S. East Coast Margin and investigates the relationship between incipient margin structure and segmentation at the modem Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The second part (Chs. 3-5) focuses on the mechanics of faulting in extending lithosphere. In Ch. 3, I show that the incorporation of a strain-rate softening rheology in continuum models results in localized zones of high strain rate that are not imposed a priori and develop in response to the rheology and boundar conditions. I then use this approach to quantify the effects of thermal state, crustal thickness, and crustal rheology on the predicted style of extension deformation. The mechanics of fault initiation and propagation along mid-ocean ridge segments is investigated in Ch. 4. Two modes of fault development are identified: Mode C faults that initiate near the center of a segment and Mode E faults that initiate at the segment ends. Numerical results from Ch. 5 predict that over time scales longer than a typical earhquake cycle transform faults behave as zones of significant weakness. Furthermore, these models indicate that Mode E faults formed at the inside-comer of a ridge-transform intersection wil experience preferential growth relative to faults formed at the conjugate outside-comer due to their proximity to the weak transform zone. Finally, the last par of this thesis (Ch. 6) presents a new method to quantify the relationship between the seismic velocity and composition of igneous rocks. A direct relationship is derived to relate V p to major element composition and typical velocity-depth profiles are used to calculate compositional bounds for the lower continental, margin, and oceanic crust.
  • Preprint
    Mid-ocean ridge jumps associated with hotspot magmatism
    ( 2007-10-11) Mittelstaedt, Eric ; Ito, Garrett T. ; Behn, Mark D.
    Hotspot-ridge interaction produces a wide range of phenomena including excess crustal thickness, geochemical anomalies, off-axis volcanic ridges and ridge relocations or jumps. Ridges are recorded to have jumped toward many hotspots including, Iceland, Discovery, Galapagos, Kerguelen and Tristan de Cuhna. The causes of ridge jumps likely involve a number of interacting processes related to hotspots. One such process is reheating of the lithosphere as magma penetrates it to feed near-axis volcanism. We study this effect by using the hybrid, finite-element code, FLAC, to simulate two-dimensional (2-D, cross-section) viscous mantle flow, elasto-plastic deformation of the lithosphere and heat transport in a ridge setting near an off-axis hotspot. Heating due to magma transport through the lithosphere is implemented within a hotspot region of fixed width. To determine the conditions necessary to initiate a ridge jump, we vary four parameters: hotspot magmatic heating rate, spreading rate, seafloor age at the location of the hotspot and ridge migration rate. Our results indicate that the hotspot magmatic heating rate required to initiate a ridge jump increases non-linearly with increasing spreading rate and seafloor age. Models predict that magmatic heating, itself, is most likely to cause jumps at slow spreading rates such as at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge on Iceland. In contrast, despite the higher magma flux at the Galapagos hotspot, magmatic heating alone is probably insufficient to induce a ridge jump at the present-day due to the intermediate ridge spreading rate of the Galapagos Spreading Center. The time required to achieve a ridge jump, for fixed or migrating ridges, is found to be on the order of 105-106 years. Simulations that incorporate ridge migration predict that after a ridge jump occurs the hotspot and ridge migrate together for time periods that increase with magma flux. Model results also suggest a mechanism for ridge reorganizations not related to hotspots such as ridge jumps in back-arc settings and ridge segment propagation along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
  • Article
    Global mantle flow and the development of seismic anisotropy : differences between the oceanic and continental upper mantle
    (American Geophysical Union, 2007-07-26) Conrad, Clinton P. ; Behn, Mark D. ; Silver, Paul G.
    Viscous shear in the asthenosphere accommodates relative motion between Earth's surface plates and underlying mantle, generating lattice-preferred orientation (LPO) in olivine aggregates and a seismically anisotropic fabric. Because this fabric develops with the evolving mantle flow field, observations of seismic anisotropy can constrain asthenospheric flow patterns if the contribution of fossil lithospheric anisotropy is small. We use global viscous mantle flow models to characterize the relationship between asthenospheric deformation and LPO and compare the predicted pattern of anisotropy to a global compilation of observed shear wave splitting measurements. For asthenosphere >500 km from plate boundaries, simple shear rotates the LPO toward the infinite strain axis (ISA, the LPO after infinite deformation) faster than the ISA changes along flow lines. Thus we expect the ISA to approximate LPO throughout most of the asthenosphere, greatly simplifying LPO predictions because strain integration along flow lines is unnecessary. Approximating LPO with the ISA and assuming A-type fabric (olivine a axis parallel to ISA), we find that mantle flow driven by both plate motions and mantle density heterogeneity successfully predicts oceanic anisotropy (average misfit 13°). Continental anisotropy is less well fit (average misfit 41°), but lateral variations in lithospheric thickness improve the fit in some continental areas. This suggests that asthenospheric anisotropy contributes to shear wave splitting for both continents and oceans but is overlain by a stronger layer of lithospheric anisotropy for continents. The contribution of the oceanic lithosphere is likely smaller because it is thinner, younger, and less deformed than its continental counterpart.
  • Article
    Constraints on the lake volume required for hydro-fracture through ice sheets
    (American Geophysical Union, 2009-05-16) Krawczynski, Michael J. ; Behn, Mark D. ; Das, Sarah B. ; Joughin, Ian
    Water-filled cracks are an effective mechanism to drive hydro-fractures through thick ice sheets. Crack geometry is therefore critical in assessing whether a supraglacial lake contains a sufficient volume of water to keep a crack water-filled until it reaches the bed. In this study, we investigate fracture propagation using a linear elastic fracture mechanics model to calculate the dimensions of water-filled cracks beneath supraglacial lakes. We find that the cross-sectional area of water-filled cracks increases non-linearly with ice sheet thickness. Using these results, we place volumetric constraints on the amount of water necessary to drive cracks through ∼1 km of sub-freezing ice. For ice sheet regions under little tension, lakes larger than 0.25–0.80 km in diameter contain sufficient water to rapidly drive hydro-fractures through 1–1.5 km of subfreezing ice. This represents ∼98% of the meltwater volume held in supraglacial lakes in the central western margin of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
  • Article
    Morphology and segmentation of the western Galápagos Spreading Center, 90.5°–98°W : plume-ridge interaction at an intermediate spreading ridge
    (American Geophysical Union, 2003-12-13) Sinton, John M. ; Detrick, Robert S. ; Canales, J. Pablo ; Ito, Garrett T. ; Behn, Mark D.
    Complete multibeam bathymetric coverage of the western Galápagos Spreading Center (GSC) between 90.5°W and 98°W reveals the fine-scale morphology, segmentation and influence of the Galápagos hot spot on this intermediate spreading ridge. The western GSC comprises three morphologically defined provinces: A Western Province, located farthest from the Galápagos hot spot west of 95°30′W, is characterized by an axial deep, rift valley morphology with individual, overlapping, E-W striking segments separated by non-transform offsets; A Middle Province, between the propagating rift tips at 93°15′W and 95°30′W, with transitional axial morphology strikes ∼276°; An Eastern Province, closest to the Galápagos hot spot between the ∼90°50′W Galápagos Transform and 93°15′W, with an axial high morphology generally less than 1800 m deep, strikes ∼280°. At a finer scale, the axial region consists of 32 individual segments defined on the basis of smaller, mainly <2 km, offsets. These offsets mainly step left in the Western and Middle Provinces, and right in the Eastern Province. Glass compositions indicate that the GSC is segmented magmatically into 8 broad regions, with Mg # generally decreasing to the west within each region. Striking differences in bathymetric and lava fractionation patterns between the propagating rifts with tips at 93°15′W and 95°30′W reflect lower overall magma supply and larger offset distance at the latter. The structure of the Eastern Province is complicated by the intersection of a series of volcanic lineaments that appear to radiate away from a point located on the northern edge of the Galápagos platform, close to the southern limit of the Galápagos Fracture Zone. Where these lineaments intersect the GSC, the ridge axis is displaced to the south through a series of overlapping spreading centers (OSCs); abandoned OSC limbs lie even farther south. We propose that southward displacement of the axis is promoted during intermittent times of increased plume activity, when lithospheric zones of weakness become volcanically active. Following cessation of the increased plume activity, the axis straightens by decapitating southernmost OSC limbs during short-lived propagation events. This process contributes to the number of right stepping offsets in the Eastern Province.
  • Preprint
    Topographic controls on dike injection in volcanic rift zones
    ( 2006-04-03) Behn, Mark D. ; Buck, W. Roger ; Sacks, I. Selwyn
    Dike emplacement in volcanic rift zones is often associated with the injection of “bladelike” dikes, which propagate long distances parallel to the rift, but frequently remain trapped at depth and erupt only near the tip of the dike. Over geologic time, this style of dike injection implies that a greater percentage of extension is accommodated by magma accretion at depth than near the surface. In this study, we investigate the evolution of faulting, topography, and stress state in volcanic rift zones using a kinematic model for dike injection in an extending 2-D elastic-viscoplastic layer. We show that the intrusion of blade-like dikes focuses deformation at the rift axis, leading to the formation of an axial rift valley. However, flexure associated with the development of the rift topography generates compression at the base of the plate. If the magnitude of these deviatoric compressive stresses exceeds the deviatoric tensile stress associated with far-field extension, further dike injection will be inhibited. In general, this transition from tensile to compressive deviatoric stresses occurs when the rate of accretion in the lower crust is greater than 50-60% of the far-field extension rate. These results indicate that over geologic time-scales the injection of blade-like dikes is a self-limiting process in which dike-generated faulting and topography result in an efficient feedback mechanism that controls the time-averaged distribution of magma accretion within the crust.
  • Article
    Magmatic and tectonic extension at mid-ocean ridges : 2. Origin of axial morphology
    (American Geophysical Union, 2008-09-30) Ito, Garrett T. ; Behn, Mark D.
    We investigate the origin of mid-ocean ridge morphology with numerical models that successfully predict axial topographic highs, axial valleys, and the transition between the two. The models are time-dependent, simulating alternating tectonic and magmatic periods where far-field extension is accommodated by faulting and by magmatism, respectively. During tectonic phases, models predict faults to grow on either side of the ridge axis and axial height to decrease. During magmatic phases, models simulate magmatic extension by allowing the axial lithosphere to open freely in response to extension. Results show that fault size and spacing decreases with increasing time fraction spent in the magmatic phase F M . Magmatic phases also simulate the growth of topography in response to local buoyancy forces. The fundamental variable that controls the transition between axial highs and valleys is the “rise-sink ratio,” (F M /F T )(τ T /τ M ), where F M /F T is the ratio of the time spent in the magmatic and tectonic periods and τ T /τ M is the ratio of the characteristic rates for growing topography during magmatic phases (1/τ M ) and for reducing topography during tectonic phases (1/τ T ). Models predict the tallest axial highs when (F M /F T )(τ T /τ M ) ≫ 1, faulted topography without a high or valley when (F M /F T )(τ T /τ M ) ∼ 1, and the deepest median valleys when (F M /F T )(τ M /τ T ) < 1. New scaling laws explain a global negative correlation between axial topography and lithosphere thickness as measured by the depths of axial magma lenses and microearthquakes. Exceptions to this trend reveal the importance of other behaviors such as a predicted inverse relation between axial topography and spreading rate as evident along the Lau Spreading Center. Still other factors related to the frequency and spatial pervasiveness of magmatic intrusions and eruptions, as evident at the Mid-Atlantic and Juan de Fuca ridges, influence the rise-sink-ratio (F M /F T )(τ T /τ M ) and thus axial morphology.
  • Article
    Reconstruction of the Talkeetna intraoceanic arc of Alaska through thermobarometry
    (American Geophysical Union, 2008-03-07) Hacker, Bradley R. ; Mehl, Luc ; Kelemen, Peter B. ; Rioux, Matthew ; Behn, Mark D. ; Luffi, Peter
    The Talkeetna arc is one of two intraoceanic arcs where much of the section from the upper mantle through the volcanic carapace is well exposed. We reconstruct the vertical section of the Talkeetna arc by determining the (re)crystallization pressures at various structural levels. The thermobarometry shows that the tonalites and quartz diorites intruded at ∼5–9 km into a volcanic section estimated from stratigraphy to be 7 km thick. The shallowest, Tazlina and Barnette, gabbros crystallized at ∼17–24 km; the Klanelneechena Klippe crystallized at ∼24–26 km; and the base of the arc crystallized at ∼35 km depth. The arc had a volcanic:plutonic ratio of ∼1:3–1:4. However, many or most of the felsic plutonic rocks may represent crystallized liquids rather than cumulates so that the liquid:cumulate ratio might be 1:2 or larger. The current 5- to 7-km structural thickness of the plutonic section of the arc is ∼15–30% of the original 23- to 28-km thickness. The bulk composition of the original Talkeetna arc section was ∼51–58 wt % SiO2.
  • Article
    Role of melt supply in oceanic detachment faulting and formation of megamullions
    (Geological Society of America, 2008-06) Tucholke, Brian E. ; Behn, Mark D. ; Buck, W. Roger ; Lin, Jian
    Normal faults are ubiquitous on mid-ocean ridges and are expected to develop increasing offset with reduced spreading rate as the proportion of tectonic extension increases. Numerous long-lived detachment faults that form megamullions with large-scale corrugations have been identified on magma-poor mid-ocean ridges, but recent studies suggest, counterintuitively, that they may be associated with elevated magmatism. We present numerical models and geological data to show that these detachments occur when ~30%–50% of total extension is accommodated by magmatic accretion and that there is significant magmatic accretion in the fault footwalls. Under these low-melt conditions, magmatism may focus unevenly along the spreading axis to create an irregular brittle-plastic transition where detachments root, thus explaining the origin of the enigmatic corrugations. Morphological and compositional characteristics of the oceanic lithosphere suggested by this study provide important new constraints to assess the distribution of magmatic versus tectonic extension along mid-ocean ridges.
  • Article
    The stability of arc lower crust : insights from the Talkeetna Arc section, south-central Alaska and the seismic structure of modern arcs
    (American Geophysical Union, 2006-11-11) Behn, Mark D. ; Kelemen, Peter B.
    One process for the formation of continental crust is the accretion of arc terranes at continental margins. A longstanding problem with this model is that although the composition of the continental crust is andesitic, the majority of arc lavas are basaltic. Moreover, those arc lavas that are andesitic tend to be evolved (lower Mg #) compared to the continental crust. Continental crust can be produced through mixing of basaltic and silicic arc lava compositions, assuming that mafic cumulates formed during generation of the silicic component are removed. If these cumulates are denser than the underlying mantle, removal can occur via foundering of lower arc crust. Indeed, field observations of the Talkeetna arc section in south-central Alaska, combined with modeling of fractionation in primitive arc magmas, suggest that large amounts of primitive gabbronorite and pyroxenite are missing from the lower crust. Using rock compositions from the Talkeetna section and the free energy minimization program Perple_X, we calculated equilibrium mineral assemblages for a range of gabbroic and ultramafic compositions at P, T, oxygen fugacity (fO2), and H2O contents appropriate for arc lower crust. The quartz-olivine-garnet-free mineral assemblage found in the Talkeetna gabbronorites (and in the similar Kohistan section in Pakistan) defines a narrow range of fO2 centered on NNO+2 (±1 log unit). Predicted mineral assemblages calculated under these conditions were used to estimate the density and seismic structure of the arc lower crust. We find that the missing gabbroic and ultramafic rocks from the Talkeetna section were likely denser than the underlying mantle, while the gabbronorites that remain are either neutrally or slightly positively buoyant. Generalizing, we show that lower crustal Vp > 7.4 km/s in modern arcs is indicative of lower crust that is convectively unstable relative to the underlying mantle. However, most lower crust in modern arcs is observed to have Vp < 7.4 km/s, implying that gravitationally unstable material must founder rapidly on geologic time-scales, or high Vp plutonic rocks crystallize beneath the Moho.
  • Preprint
    Spatio-temporal evolution of strain accumulation derived from multi-scale observations of Late Jurassic rifting in the northern North Sea : a critical test of models for lithospheric extension
    ( 2005-01-23) Cowie, Patience A. ; Underhill, John R. ; Behn, Mark D. ; Lin, Jian ; Gill, Caroline E.
    We integrate observations of lithospheric extension over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales within the northern North Sea basin and critically review the extent to which existing theories of lithospheric deformation can account for these observations. Data obtained through a prolonged period of hydrocarbon exploration and production has yielded a dense and diverse data set over the entire Viking Graben and its flanking platform areas. These data show how syn-rift accommodation within the basin varied in space and time with sub-kilometer-scale spatial resolution and a temporal resolution of 2–3 Myr. Regional interpretations of 2D seismic reflection, refraction and gravity data for this area have also been published and provide an image of total basin wide stretching for the entire crust. These image data are combined with published strain rate inversion results obtained from tectonic subsidence patterns to constrain the spatio-temporal evolution of strain accumulation throughout the lithosphere during the 40 Myr (170–130 Ma) period of Late Jurassic extension across this basin. For the first 25–30 Myr, strain localisation dominated basin development with strain rates at the eventual rift axis increasing while strain rates over the flanking areas declined. As strain rates across the whole basin were consistently very low (< 3 × 10- 16 s- l), thermally induced strength loss cannot explain this phenomenon. The strain localisation is manifest in the near-surface by a systematic migration of fault activity. The pattern and timing of this migration are inconsistent with flexural bending stresses exerting an underlying control, especially when estimates of flexural rigidity for this area are considered. The best explanation for what is observed in this time period is a coupling between near-surface strain localisation, driven by brittle (or plastic) failure, and the evolving thermal structure of the lithosphere. We demonstrate this process using a continuum mechanics model for normal fault growth that incorporates the strain rate-dependence of frictional strength observed in laboratory studies. During the final 10 Myr of basin formation, strain accumulation was focused within the axis and strain rates declined rapidly. Replacement of weak crust by stronger mantle material plus crustal buoyancy forces can adequately explain this decline.
  • Article
    Relationship between seismic P-wave velocity and the composition of anhydrous igneous and meta-igneous rocks
    (American Geophysical Union, 2003-05-03) Behn, Mark D. ; Kelemen, Peter B.
    This study presents a new approach to quantitatively assess the relationship between the composition and seismic P-wave velocity of anhydrous igneous and meta-igneous rocks. We perform thermodynamic calculations of the equilibrating phase assemblages predicted for all igneous composition space at various pressure and temperature conditions. Seismic velocities for each assemblage are then estimated from mixing theory using laboratory measurements of the elastic parameters for pure mineral phases. The resultant velocities are used to derive a direct relationship between Vp and major element composition valid to ±0.13 km/s for pressure and temperature conditions along a normal crustal geotherm in the depth range of 5–50 km and equilibration pressures ≤12 kbar. Finally, we use the calculated velocities to invert for major element chemistry as a function of P-wave velocity assuming only the in situ temperature and pressure conditions are known. Compiling typical velocity-depth profiles for the middle and lower continental and oceanic crust, we calculate compositional bounds for each of these geologic environments. We find that the acceptable compositional range for the middle (15–30 km) and lower continental (≥35 km) crust is broad, ranging from basaltic to dacitic compositions, and conclude that P-wave velocity measurements alone are insufficient to provide fundamental constraints on the composition of the middle and lower continental crust. However, because major oxides are correlated in igneous rocks, joint constraints on Vp and individual oxides can narrow the range of acceptable crustal compositions. In the case of the lower oceanic crust (≥2 km), observed velocities are 0.2–0.3 km/s lower than velocities calculated based on the average bulk composition of gabbros in drill cores and exposed ophiolite sequences. We attribute this discrepancy to a combination of residual porosity at crustal depths less than ∼10 km and hydrous alteration phases in the lower crust, and suggest caution when inferring mantle melting parameters from observed velocities in the lower oceanic crust.
  • Article
    Melt generation, crystallization, and extraction beneath segmented oceanic transform faults
    (American Geophysical Union, 2009-11-13) Gregg, Patricia M. ; Behn, Mark D. ; Lin, Jian ; Grove, Timothy L.
    We examine mantle melting, fractional crystallization, and melt extraction beneath fast slipping, segmented oceanic transform fault systems. Three-dimensional mantle flow and thermal structures are calculated using a temperature-dependent rheology that incorporates a viscoplastic approximation for brittle deformation in the lithosphere. Thermal solutions are combined with the near-fractional, polybaric melting model of Kinzler and Grove (1992a, 1992b, 1993) to determine extents of melting, the shape of the melting regime, and major element melt composition. We investigate the mantle source region of intratransform spreading centers (ITSCs) using the melt migration approach of Sparks and Parmentier (1991) for two end-member pooling models: (1) a wide pooling region that incorporates all of the melt focused to the ITSC and (2) a narrow pooling region that assumes melt will not migrate across a transform fault or fracture zone. Assuming wide melt pooling, our model predictions can explain both the systematic crustal thickness excesses observed at intermediate and fast slipping transform faults as well as the deeper and lower extents of melting observed in the vicinity of several transform systems. Applying these techniques to the Siqueiros transform on the East Pacific Rise we find that both the viscoplastic rheology and wide melt pooling are required to explain the observed variations in gravity inferred crustal thickness. Finally, we show that mantle potential temperature Tp = 1350°C and fractional crystallization at depths of 9–15.5 km fit the majority of the major element geochemical data from the Siqueiros transform fault system.
  • Article
    Thermal structure of oceanic transform faults
    (Geological Society of America, 2007-04) Behn, Mark D. ; Boettcher, Margaret S. ; Hirth, Greg
    We use three-dimensional finite element simulations to investigate the temperature structure beneath oceanic transform faults. We show that using a rheology that incorporates brittle weakening of the lithosphere generates a region of enhanced mantle upwelling and elevated temperatures along the transform; the warmest temperatures and thinnest lithosphere are predicted to be near the center of the transform. Previous studies predicted that the mantle beneath oceanic transform faults is anomalously cold relative to adjacent intraplate regions, with the thickest lithosphere located at the center of the transform. These earlier studies used simplified rheologic laws to simulate the behavior of the lithosphere and underlying asthenosphere. We show that the warmer thermal structure predicted by our calculations is directly attributed to the inclusion of a more realistic brittle rheology. This temperature structure is consistent with a wide range of observations from ridge-transform environments, including the depth of seismicity, geochemical anomalies along adjacent ridge segments, and the tendency for long transforms to break into small intratransform spreading centers during changes in plate motion.
  • Article
    Magmatic and tectonic extension at mid-ocean ridges : 1. Controls on fault characteristics
    (American Geophysical Union, 2008-08-02) Behn, Mark D. ; Ito, Garrett T.
    We use 2-D numerical models to explore the thermal and mechanical effects of magma intrusion on fault initiation and growth at slow and intermediate spreading ridges. Magma intrusion is simulated by widening a vertical column of model elements located within the lithosphere at a rate equal to a fraction, M, of the total spreading rate (i.e., M = 1 for fully magmatic spreading). Heat is added in proportion to the rate of intrusion to simulate the thermal effects of magma crystallization and the injection of hot magma into the crust. We examine a range of intrusion rates and axial thermal structures by varying M, spreading rate, and the efficiency of crustal cooling by conduction and hydrothermal circulation. Fault development proceeds in a sequential manner, with deformation focused on a single active normal fault whose location alternates between the two sides of the ridge axis. Fault spacing and heave are primarily sensitive to M and secondarily sensitive to axial lithosphere thickness and the rate that the lithosphere thickens with distance from the axis. Contrary to what is often cited in the literature, but consistent with prior results of mechanical modeling, we find that thicker axial lithosphere tends to reduce fault spacing and heave. In addition, fault spacing and heave are predicted to increase with decreasing rates of off-axis lithospheric thickening. The combination of low M, particularly when M approaches 0.5, as well as a reduced rate of off-axis lithospheric thickening produces long-lived, large-offset faults, similar to oceanic core complexes. Such long-lived faults produce a highly asymmetric axial thermal structure, with thinner lithosphere on the side with the active fault. This across-axis variation in thermal structure may tend to stabilize the active fault for longer periods of time and could concentrate hydrothermal circulation in the footwall of oceanic core complexes.
  • Preprint
    Implications of grain size evolution on the seismic structure of the oceanic upper mantle
    ( 2009-03-04) Behn, Mark D. ; Hirth, Greg ; Elsenbeck, James R.
    We construct a 1-D steady-state channel flow model for grain size evolution in the oceanic upper mantle using a composite diffusion-dislocation creep rheology. Grain size evolution is calculated assuming that grain size is controlled by a competition between dynamic recrystallization and grain growth. Applying this grain size evolution model to the oceanic upper mantle we calculate grain size as a function of depth, seafloor age, and mantle water content. The resulting grain size structure is used to predict shear wave velocity (VS) and seismic quality factor (Q). For a plate age of 60 Myr and an olivine water content of 1000 H/106Si, we find that grain size reaches a minimum of ~15 mm at ~150 km depth and then increases to ~20–30 mm at a depth of 400 km. This grain size structure produces a good fit to the low seismic shear wave velocity zone (LVZ) in oceanic upper mantle observed by surface wave studies assuming that the influence of hydrogen on anelastic behavior is similar to that observed for steady state creep. Further it predicts a viscosity of ~1019 Pa s at 150 km depth and dislocation creep to be the dominant deformation mechanism throughout the oceanic upper mantle, consistent with geophysical observations. We predict larger grain sizes than proposed in recent studies, in which the LVZ was explained by a dry mantle and a minimum grain size of 1 mm. However, we show that for a 1 mm grain size, diffusion creep is the dominant deformation mechanism above 100– 200 km depth, inconsistent with abundant observations of seismic anisotropy from surface wave studies. We therefore conclude that a combination of grain size evolution and a hydrated upper mantle is the most likely explanation for both the isotropic and anisotropic seismic structure of the oceanic upper mantle. Our results also suggest that melt extraction from the mantle will be significantly more efficient than predicted in previous modeling studies that assumed grain sizes of ~1 mm.