Causes of oceanic crustal thickness oscillations along a 74-Myr Mid-Atlantic Ridge flow line

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Shinevar, William J.
Mark, Hannah F.
Clerc, Fiona
Codillo, Emmanuel A.
Gong, Jianhua
Olive, Jean-Arthur
Brown, Stephanie M.
Smalls, Paris T.
Liao, Yang
Le Roux, Véronique
Behn, Mark D.
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Gravity, magnetic, and bathymetry data collected along a continuous 1400-km-long spreading-parallel flow line across the Mid-Atlantic Ridge indicate significant tectonic and magmatic fluctuations in the formation of oceanic crust over a range of timescales. The transect spans from 28 Ma on the African Plate to 74 Ma on the North American plate, crossing the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at 35.8 ºN. Gravity-derived crustal thicknesses vary from 3–9 km with a standard deviation of 1 km. Spectral analysis of bathymetry and residual mantle Bouguer anomaly (RMBA) show diffuse power at >1 Myr and concurrent peaks at 390, 550, and 950 kyr. Large-scale (>10-km) mantle thermal and compositional heterogeneities, variations in upper mantle flow, and detachment faulting likely generate the >1 Myr diffuse power. The 550- and 950-kyr peaks may reflect the presence of magma solitons and/or regularly spaced ~7.7 and 13.3 km short-wavelength mantle compositional heterogeneities. The 390-kyr spectral peak corresponds to the characteristic spacing of faults along the flow line. Fault spacing also varies over longer periods (>10 Myr), which we interpret as reflecting long-lived changes in the fraction of tectonically- vs. magmatically- accommodated extensional strain. A newly discovered off-axis oceanic core complex (Kafka Dome) found at 8 Ma on the African plate further suggests extended time periods of tectonically dominated plate separation. Fault spacing negatively correlates with gravity-derived crustal thickness, supporting a strong link between magma input and fault style at mid-ocean ridges.
These data sets collected geophysical data: multi-beam bathymetry, gravity, magnetics, sub-bottom profile to investigate the relationships between faulting, magmatism, and sea level change.
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