Behn Mark D.

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Mark D.

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  • 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
    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.