Behn Mark D.

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Mark D.

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  • Article
    The role of elasticity in simulating long-term tectonic extension
    (Oxford University Press, 2016-01-27) Olive, Jean-Arthur ; Behn, Mark D. ; Mittelstaedt, Eric ; Ito, Garrett T. ; Klein, Benjamin Z.
    While elasticity is a defining characteristic of the Earth's lithosphere, it is often ignored in numerical models of long-term tectonic processes in favour of a simpler viscoplastic description. Here we assess the consequences of this assumption on a well-studied geodynamic problem: the growth of normal faults at an extensional plate boundary. We conduct 2-D numerical simulations of extension in elastoplastic and viscoplastic layers using a finite difference, particle-in-cell numerical approach. Our models simulate a range of faulted layer thicknesses and extension rates, allowing us to quantify the role of elasticity on three key observables: fault-induced topography, fault rotation, and fault life span. In agreement with earlier studies, simulations carried out in elastoplastic layers produce rate-independent lithospheric flexure accompanied by rapid fault rotation and an inverse relationship between fault life span and faulted layer thickness. By contrast, models carried out with a viscoplastic lithosphere produce results that may qualitatively resemble the elastoplastic case, but depend strongly on the product of extension rate and layer viscosity U × ηL. When this product is high, fault growth initially generates little deformation of the footwall and hanging wall blocks, resulting in unrealistic, rigid block-offset in topography across the fault. This configuration progressively transitions into a regime where topographic decay associated with flexure is fully accommodated within the numerical domain. In addition, high U × ηL favours the sequential growth of multiple short-offset faults as opposed to a large-offset detachment. We interpret these results by comparing them to an analytical model for the fault-induced flexure of a thin viscous plate. The key to understanding the viscoplastic model results lies in the rate-dependence of the flexural wavelength of a viscous plate, and the strain rate dependence of the force increase associated with footwall and hanging wall bending. This behaviour produces unrealistic deformation patterns that can hinder the geological relevance of long-term rifting models that assume a viscoplastic rheology.
  • Article
    Relationship between Greenland Ice Sheet surface speed and modeled effective pressure
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2018-09-27) Stevens, Laura A. ; Hewitt, Ian J. ; Das, Sarah B. ; Behn, Mark D.
    We use a numerical subglacial hydrology model and remotely sensed observations of Greenland Ice Sheet surface motion to test whether the inverse relationship between effective pressure and regional melt season surface speeds observed at individual sites holds on a regional scale. The model is forced with daily surface runoff estimates for 2009 and 2010 across an ~8,000‐km2 region on the western margin. The overall subglacial drainage system morphology develops similarly in both years, with subglacial channel networks growing inland from the ice sheet margin and robust subglacial pathways forming over bedrock ridges. Modeled effective pressures are compared to contemporaneous regional surface speeds derived from TerraSAR‐X imagery to investigate spatial relationships. Our results show an inverse spatial relationship between effective pressure and ice speed in the mid‐melt season, when surface speeds are elevated, indicating that effective pressure is the dominant control on surface velocities in the mid‐melt season. By contrast, in the early and late melt seasons, when surface speeds are slower, effective pressure and surface speed have a positive relationship. Our results suggest that outside of the mid‐melt season, the influence of effective pressures on sliding speeds may be secondary to the influence of driving stress and spatially variable bed roughness.
  • Article
    Marine ice cliff instability mitigated by slow removal of ice shelves
    (American Geophysical Union, 2019-10-21) Clerc, Fiona ; Minchew, Brent M. ; Behn, Mark D.
    The accelerated calving of ice shelves buttressing the Antarctic Ice Sheet may form unstable ice cliffs. The marine ice cliff instability hypothesis posits that cliffs taller than a critical height (~90 m) will undergo structural collapse, initiating runaway retreat in ice‐sheet models. This critical height is based on inferences from preexisting, static ice cliffs. Here we show how the critical height increases with the timescale of ice‐shelf collapse. We model failure mechanisms within an ice cliff deforming after removal of ice‐shelf buttressing stresses. If removal occurs rapidly, the cliff deforms primarily elastically and fails through tensile‐brittle fracture, even at relatively small cliff heights. As the ice‐shelf removal timescale increases, viscous relaxation dominates, and the critical height increases to ~540 m for timescales greater than days. A 90‐m critical height implies ice‐shelf removal in under an hour. Incorporation of ice‐shelf collapse timescales in prognostic ice‐sheet models will mitigate the marine ice cliff instability, implying less ice mass loss.
  • Article
    Mantle heterogeneity and melting processes in the South China Sea: thermal and melting models constrained by oceanic crustal thickness and basalt geochemistry
    (American Geophysical Union, 2021-01-13) Zhang, Xubo ; Lin, Jian ; Behn, Mark D.
    We simulate mantle flow, thermal structure, and melting processes beneath the ridge axis of the South China Sea (SCS), combining the nominally anhydrous melting and fractional crystallization model, to study mantle heterogeneity and basin evolution. The model results are constrained by seismically determined crustal thickness and major element composition of fossil ridge axis basalts. The effects of half-spreading rate, mantle potential temperature, mantle source composition, and the pattern of melt migration on the crustal thickness and magma chemical composition are systematically investigated. For the SCS, the east and southwest (SW) subbasins have comparable crustal thickness, but the east subbasin has higher FeO and Na2O contents compared to the SW subbasin. The estimated best fitting mantle potential temperatures in the east and SW subbasins are 1,360 ± 15 °C and 1,350 ± 25 °C, respectively. The mantle in the east subbasin (site U1431) prior to the cessation of seafloor spreading is composed primarily of the depleted mid-ocean ridge basalt mantle (DMM), and is slightly contaminated by eclogite/pyroxenite-rich component. However, the mantle source composition of the SW subbasin (sites U1433 and U1434) contains a small percentage (2–5%) of lower continental crust. Basalt samples at the northern margin of the east subbasin (site U1500) shows similar chemical characteristics with that of the SW subbasin. We suggest that the basin-scale variability in the mantle heterogeneity of the SCS can be explained by a single model in which the contamination by the lower continental crust is gradually diluted by melting of DMM as the ridge moves away from the rifted margin.
  • 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.
  • Article
    Focusing of upward fluid migration beneath volcanic arcs : effect of mineral grain size variation in the mantle wedge
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2015-11-13) Wada, Ikuko ; Behn, Mark D.
    We use numerical models to investigate the effects of mineral grain size variation on fluid migration in the mantle wedge at subduction zones and on the location of the volcanic arc. Previous coupled thermal-grain size evolution (T-GSE) models predict small grain size (<1 mm) in the corner flow of the mantle wedge, a downdip grain size increase by ∼2 orders of magnitude along the base of the mantle wedge, and finer grain size in the mantle wedge for colder-slab subduction zones. We integrate these T-GSE modeling results with a fluid migration model, in which permeability depends on grain size, and fluid flow through a moving mantle matrix is driven by fluid buoyancy and dynamic pressure gradients induced by mantle flow. Our modeling results indicate that fluids introduced along the base of the mantle wedge beneath the fore arc are initially dragged downdip by corner flow due to the small grain size and low permeability immediately above the slab. As grain size increases with depth, permeability increases, resulting in upward fluid migration. Fluids released beneath the arc and the back arc are also initially dragged downdip, but typically are not transported as far laterally before they begin to travel upward. As the fluids rise through the back-arc mantle wedge, they become deflected toward the trench due to the effect of mantle inflow. The combination of downdip migration in the fore arc and trench-ward migration in the back arc results in pathways that focus fluids beneath the arc.
  • Article
    Grain-size dynamics beneath mid-ocean ridges : implications for permeability and melt extraction
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2015-03-26) Turner, Andrew J. ; Katz, Richard F. ; Behn, Mark D.
    Grain size is an important control on mantle viscosity and permeability, but is difficult or impossible to measure in situ. We construct a two-dimensional, single phase model for the steady state mean grain size beneath a mid-ocean ridge. The mantle rheology is modeled as a composite of diffusion creep, dislocation creep, dislocation accommodated grain boundary sliding, and a plastic stress limiter. The mean grain size is calculated by the paleowattmeter relationship of Austin and Evans (2007). We investigate the sensitivity of our model to global variations in grain growth exponent, potential temperature, spreading-rate, and mantle hydration. We interpret the mean grain-size field in terms of its permeability to melt transport. The permeability structure due to mean grain size may be approximated as a high permeability region beneath a low permeability region. The transition between high and low permeability regions occurs across a boundary that is steeply inclined toward the ridge axis. We hypothesize that such a permeability structure generated from the variability of the mean grain size may focus melt toward the ridge axis, analogous to Sparks and Parmentier (1991)-type focusing. This focusing may, in turn, constrain the region where significant melt fractions are observed by seismic or magnetotelluric surveys. This interpretation of melt focusing via the grain-size permeability structure is consistent with MT observation of the asthenosphere beneath the East Pacific Rise.
  • Article
    Frictional behavior of oceanic transform faults and its influence on earthquake characteristics
    (American Geophysical Union, 2012-04-26) Liu, Yajing ; McGuire, Jeffrey J. ; Behn, Mark D.
    We use a three-dimensional strike-slip fault model in the framework of rate and state-dependent friction to investigate earthquake behavior and scaling relations on oceanic transform faults (OTFs). Gabbro friction data under hydrothermal conditions are mapped onto OTFs using temperatures from (1) a half-space cooling model, and (2) a thermal model that incorporates a visco-plastic rheology, non-Newtonian viscous flow and the effects of shear heating and hydrothermal circulation. Without introducing small-scale frictional heterogeneities on the fault, our model predicts that an OTF segment can transition between seismic and aseismic slip over many earthquake cycles, consistent with the multimode hypothesis for OTF ruptures. The average seismic coupling coefficient χ is strongly dependent on the ratio of seismogenic zone width W to earthquake nucleation size h*; χ increases by four orders of magnitude as W/h* increases from ∼1 to 2. Specifically, the average χ = 0.15 ± 0.05 derived from global OTF earthquake catalogs can be reached at W/h* ≈ 1.2–1.7. Further, in all simulations the area of the largest earthquake rupture is less than the total seismogenic area and we predict a deficiency of large earthquakes on long transforms, which is also consistent with observations. To match these observations over this narrow range of W/h* requires an increase in the characteristic slip distance dc as the seismogenic zone becomes wider and normal stress is higher on long transforms. Earthquake magnitude and distribution on the Gofar and Romanche transforms are better predicted by simulations using the visco-plastic model than the half-space cooling model.
  • Article
    Influence of ice-sheet geometry and supraglacial lakes on seasonal ice-flow variability
    (Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union, 2013-07-26) Joughin, Ian ; Das, Sarah B. ; Flowers, G. E. ; Behn, Mark D. ; Alley, Richard B. ; King, Matt A. ; Smith, B. E. ; Bamber, Jonathan L. ; van den Broeke, Michiel R. ; van Angelen, J. H.
    Supraglacial lakes play an important role in establishing hydrological connections that allow lubricating seasonal meltwater to reach the base of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Here we use new surface velocity observations to examine the influence of supraglacial lake drainages and surface melt rate on ice flow. We find large, spatially extensive speedups concurrent with times of lake drainage, showing that lakes play a key role in modulating regional ice flow. While surface meltwater is supplied to the bed via a geographically sparse network of moulins, the observed ice-flow enhancement suggests that this meltwater spreads widely over the ice-sheet bed. We also find that the complex spatial pattern of speedup is strongly determined by the combined influence of bed and surface topography on subglacial water flow. Thus, modeling of ice-sheet basal hydrology likely will require knowledge of bed topography resolved at scales (sub-kilometer) far finer than existing data (several km).
  • Article
    Rapid rotation of normal faults due to flexural stresses : an explanation for the global distribution of normal fault dips
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2014-04-24) Olive, Jean-Arthur L. ; Behn, Mark D.
    We present a mechanical model to explain why most seismically active normal faults have dips much lower (30–60°) than expected from Anderson-Byerlee theory (60–65°). Our model builds on classic finite extension theory but incorporates rotation of the active fault plane as a response to the buildup of bending stresses with increasing extension. We postulate that fault plane rotation acts to minimize the amount of extensional work required to sustain slip on the fault. In an elastic layer, this assumption results in rapid rotation of the active fault plane from ~60° down to 30–45° before fault heave has reached ~50% of the faulted layer thickness. Commensurate but overall slower rotation occurs in faulted layers of finite strength. Fault rotation rates scale as the inverse of the faulted layer thickness, which is in quantitative agreement with 2-D geodynamic simulations that include an elastoplastic description of the lithosphere. We show that fault rotation promotes longer-lived fault extension compared to continued slip on a high-angle normal fault and discuss the implications of such a mechanism for fault evolution in continental rift systems and oceanic spreading centers.
  • 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.
  • Article
    Aseismic transient slip on the Gofar transform fault, East Pacific Rise
    (National Academy of Sciences, 2020-04-28) Liu, Yajing ; McGuire, Jeffrey J. ; Behn, Mark D.
    Oceanic transform faults display a unique combination of seismic and aseismic slip behavior, including a large globally averaged seismic deficit, and the local occurrence of repeating magnitude (M) ∼6 earthquakes with abundant foreshocks and seismic swarms, as on the Gofar transform of the East Pacific Rise and the Blanco Ridge in the northeast Pacific Ocean. However, the underlying mechanisms that govern the partitioning between seismic and aseismic slip and their interaction remain unclear. Here we present a numerical modeling study of earthquake sequences and aseismic transient slip on oceanic transform faults. In the model, strong dilatancy strengthening, supported by seismic imaging that indicates enhanced fluid-filled porosity and possible hydrothermal circulation down to the brittle–ductile transition, effectively stabilizes along-strike seismic rupture propagation and results in rupture barriers where aseismic transients arise episodically. The modeled slow slip migrates along the barrier zones at speeds ∼10 to 600 m/h, spatiotemporally correlated with the observed migration of seismic swarms on the Gofar transform. Our model thus suggests the possible prevalence of episodic aseismic transients in M ∼6 rupture barrier zones that host active swarms on oceanic transform faults and provides candidates for future seafloor geodesy experiments to verify the relation between aseismic fault slip, earthquake swarms, and fault zone hydromechanical properties.
  • Article
    Grain-size distribution in the mantle wedge of subduction zones
    (American Geophysical Union, 2011-10-20) Wada, Ikuko ; Behn, Mark D. ; He, Jiangheng
    Mineral grain size plays an important role in controlling many processes in the mantle wedge of subduction zones, including mantle flow and fluid migration. To investigate the grain-size distribution in the mantle wedge, we coupled a two-dimensional (2-D) steady state finite element thermal and mantle-flow model with a laboratory-derived grain-size evolution model. In our coupled model, the mantle wedge has a composite olivine rheology that incorporates grain-size-dependent diffusion creep and grain-size-independent dislocation creep. Our results show that all subduction settings lead to a characteristic grain-size distribution, in which grain size increases from 10 to 100 μm at the most trenchward part of the creeping region to a few centimeters in the subarc mantle. Despite the large variation in grain size, its effect on the mantle rheology and flow is very small, as >90% of the deformation in the flowing part of the creeping region is accommodated by grain-size-independent dislocation creep. The predicted grain-size distribution leads to a downdip increase in permeability by ∼5 orders of magnitude. This increase is likely to promote greater upward migration of aqueous fluids and melts where the slab reaches ∼100 km depth compared with shallower depths, potentially providing an explanation for the relatively uniform subarc slab depth. Seismic attenuation derived from the predicted grain-size distribution and thermal field is consistent with the observed seismic structure in the mantle wedge at many subduction zones, without requiring a significant contribution by the presence of melt.
  • Article
    Spreading rate-dependent variations in crystallization along the global mid-ocean ridge system
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2017-08-13) Wanless, V. Dorsey ; Behn, Mark D.
    We investigate crustal accretion at mid-ocean ridges by combining crystallization pressures calculated from major element contents in mid-ocean ridge basalt (MORB) glasses and vapor-saturation pressures from melt inclusions and MORB glasses. Specifically, we use established major element barometers and pressures estimated from 192 fractional crystallization trends to calculate crystallization pressures from >9000 MORB glasses across the global range of mid-ocean ridge spreading rates. Additionally, we estimate vapor-saturation pressures from >400 MORB glasses from PETDB and >400 olivine-hosted melt inclusions compiled from five ridges with variable spreading rates. Both major element and vapor-saturation pressures increase and become more variable with decreasing spreading rate. Vapor saturation pressures indicate that crystallization occurs in the lower crust and upper mantle at all ridges, even when a melt lens is present. We suggest that the broad peaks in major element crystallization pressures at all spreading rates reflects significant crystallization of on and off-axis magmas along the base of a sloping lithosphere. Combining our observations with ridge thermal models we show that crystallization occurs over a range of pressures at all ridges, but it is enhanced at thermal/rheologic boundaries, such as the melt lens and the base of the lithosphere. Finally, we suggest that the remarkable similarity in the maximum vapor-saturation pressures (∼3 kbars) recorded in melt inclusions from a wide range of spreading rates reflects a relatively uniform CO2 content of 50–85 ppm for the depleted upper mantle feeding the global mid-ocean ridge system.
  • Article
    Melt segregation and depletion during ascent of buoyant diapirs in subduction zones
    (American Geophysical Union, 2020-01-31) Zhang, Nan ; Behn, Mark D. ; Parmentier, E. Marc ; Kincaid, Christopher
    Cold, low‐density diapirs arising from hydrated mantle and/or subducted sediments on the top of subducting slabs have been invoked to transport key chemical signatures to the source region of arc magmas. However, to date there have been few quantitative models to constrain melting in such diapirs. Here we use a two‐phase Darcy‐Stokes‐energy model to investigate thermal evolution, melting, and depletion in a buoyant sediment diapir ascending through the mantle wedge. Using a simplified 2‐D circular geometry, we investigate diapir evolution in three scenarios with increasing complexity. In the first two scenarios we consider instantaneous heating of a diapir by thermal diffusion with and without the effect of the latent heat of melting. Then, these simplified calculations are compared to numerical simulations that include melting, melt segregation, and the influence of depletion on the sediment solidus along pressure‐temperature‐time (P ‐T ‐t ) paths appropriate for ascent through the mantle wedge. The high boundary temperature induces a rim of high porosity, into which new melts are focused and then migrate upward. The rim thus acts like an annulus melt channel, while the effect of depletion buffers additional melt production. Solid matrix flow combined with recrystallization of melt pooled near the top of the diapir can result in large gradients in depletion across the diapir. These large depletion gradients can either be preserved if the diapir leaks melt during ascent, or rehomogenized in a sealed diapir. Overall our numerical simulations predict less melt production than the simplified thermal diffusion calculations. Specifically, we show that diapirs whose ascent paths favor melting beneath the volcanic arc will undergo no more than ~40–50% total melting.
  • 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
    Melting systematics in mid-ocean ridge basalts : application of a plagioclase-spinel melting model to global variations in major element chemistry and crustal thickness
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2015-07-20) Behn, Mark D. ; Grove, Timothy L.
    We present a new model for anhydrous melting in the spinel and plagioclase stability fields that provides enhanced predictive capabilities for the major element compositional variability found in mid-ocean ridge basalts (MORBs). The model is built on the formulation of Kinzler and Grove (1992) and Kinzler (1997) but incorporates new experimental data collected since these calibrations. The melting model is coupled to geodynamic simulations of mantle flow and mid-ocean ridge temperature structure to investigate global variations in MORB chemistry and crustal thickness as a function of mantle potential temperature, spreading rate, mantle composition, and the pattern(s) of melt migration. While the initiation of melting is controlled by mantle temperature, the cessation of melting is primarily determined by spreading rate, which controls the thickness of the lithospheric lid, and not by the exhaustion of clinopyroxene. Spreading rate has the greatest influence on MORB compositions at slow to ultraslow spreading rates (<2 cm/yr half rate), where the thermal boundary layer becomes thicker than the oceanic crust. A key aspect of our approach is that we incorporate evidence from both MORB major element compositions and seismically determined crustal thicknesses to constrain global variations in mantle melting parameters. Specifically, we show that to explain the global data set of crustal thickness, Na8, Fe8, Si8, Ca8/Al8, and K8/Ti8 (oxides normalized to 8 wt % MgO) require a relatively narrow zone over which melts are pooled to the ridge axis. In all cases, our preferred model involves melt transport to the ridge axis over relatively short horizontal length scales (~25 km). This implies that although melting occurs over a wide region beneath the ridge axis, up to 20–40% of the total melt volume is not extracted and will eventually refreeze and refertilize the lithosphere. We find that the temperature range required to explain the global geochemical and geophysical data sets is 1300°C to 1450°C. Finally, a small subset of the global data is best modeled as melts of a depleted mantle source composition (e.g., depleted MORB mantle—2% melt).
  • Article
    Hydraulic transmissivity inferred from ice-sheet relaxation following Greenland supraglacial lake drainages
    (Nature Research, 2021-06-25) Lai, Ching-Yao ; Stevens, Laura A. ; Chase, Danielle L. ; Creyts, Timothy T. ; Behn, Mark D. ; Das, Sarah B. ; Stone, Howard A.
    Surface meltwater reaching the base of the Greenland Ice Sheet transits through drainage networks, modulating the flow of the ice sheet. Dye and gas-tracing studies conducted in the western margin sector of the ice sheet have directly observed drainage efficiency to evolve seasonally along the drainage pathway. However, the local evolution of drainage systems further inland, where ice thicknesses exceed 1000 m, remains largely unknown. Here, we infer drainage system transmissivity based on surface uplift relaxation following rapid lake drainage events. Combining field observations of five lake drainage events with a mathematical model and laboratory experiments, we show that the surface uplift decreases exponentially with time, as the water in the blister formed beneath the drained lake permeates through the subglacial drainage system. This deflation obeys a universal relaxation law with a timescale that reveals hydraulic transmissivity and indicates a two-order-of-magnitude increase in subglacial transmissivity (from 0.8 ± 0.3 mm3 to 215 ± 90.2 mm3) as the melt season progresses, suggesting significant changes in basal hydrology beneath the lakes driven by seasonal meltwater input.
  • Article
    Seismicity on the western Greenland Ice Sheet : surface fracture in the vicinity of active moulins
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2015-06-25) Carmichael, Joshua D. ; Joughin, Ian ; Behn, Mark D. ; Das, Sarah B. ; King, Matt A. ; Stevens, Laura A. ; Lizarralde, Daniel
    We analyzed geophone and GPS measurements collected within the ablation zone of the western Greenland Ice Sheet during a ~35 day period of the 2011 melt season to study changes in ice deformation before, during, and after a supraglacial lake drainage event. During rapid lake drainage, ice flow speeds increased to ~400% of winter values, and icequake activity peaked. At times >7 days after drainage, this seismicity developed variability over both diurnal and longer periods (~10 days), while coincident ice speeds fell to ~150% of winter values and showed nightly peaks in spatial variability. Approximately 95% of all detected seismicity in the lake basin and its immediate vicinity was triggered by fracture propagation within near-surface ice (<330 m deep) that generated Rayleigh waves. Icequakes occurring before and during drainage frequently were collocated with the down flow (west) end of the primary hydrofracture through which the lake drained but shifted farther west and outside the lake basin after the drainage. We interpret these results to reveal vertical hydrofracture opening and local uplift during the drainage, followed by enhanced seismicity and ice flow on the downstream side of the lake basin. This region collocates with interferometric synthetic aperture radar-measured speedup in previous years and could reflect the migration path of the meltwater supplied to the bed by the lake. The diurnal seismic signal can be associated with nightly reductions in surface melt input that increase effective basal pressure and traction, thereby promoting elevated strain in the surficial ice.