Behn Mark D.

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Mark D.

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  • 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
    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.