The crustal structure of the Kane fracture zone from seismic refraction studies

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Detrick, Robert S.
Purdy, G. Michael
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Kane Fracture Zone
24°N, 44°W
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Seismic refraction method
Underwater acoustics
A detailed seismic refraction experiment was carried out across the Kane Fracture Zone near 24°N, 44°W using explosive and air gun sound sources and eight ocean bottom hydrophone receivers. The shooting lines and receive rs formed a 'T' configuration across the fracture zone, with two receivers located about SO km apart in the fracture zone trough and the remaining six receivers positioned 25-30 km apart on either side of the fracture zone. The crustal thicknesses and velocities observed at the receivers located north and south of the Kane Fracture Zone fall within the range of those typically observed for normal oceanic crust. There is no convincing evidence for signficantly different crustal thicknesses or upper mantle velocities on either side of the fracture zone despite a 10-m.y. age difference. Anomalously thin crust is present beneath the Kane Fracture Zone trough with total crustal thicknesses of only 2-3 km, about half the thickness of normal oceanic crust. This crust is also characterized seismically by low compressional wave velocities (~4.0 km/s) at shallow depths and the absence of a normal layer 3 refractor. This anomalous crust extends over a width of a t least 10 km. Dense, high-velocity mantle type material may also exist at shallow depths beneath the adjacent Kane Fracture Zone ridge. Results from other geological and geophysical studies of fracture zones suggest that this type of crustal structure may by typical of many Atlantic fracture zones. We propose that the anomalously thin crust found within these fracture zones is a primary feature caused by the accretion of a thinner volcanic and plutonic layer within the fracture zone. This anomalous crust, which probably is restricted to a zone no wider than a typical transform fault valley (~10 km) in most cases, is inferred to consist of a few hundred meters of extrusive basalts and dikes overlying about 2 km of gabbro and metagabbro, possibly interbedded with ultramafics. This anomalously thin crustal section may be extensively fractured and brecciated at shallow levels by faulting in the active transform domain. A relatively narrow zone of thin crust within fracture zones can ex plain a number of geological and geophysical characteristics of fracture zones including the depth of the transform fault valley and the exposure of deep crustal and upper mantle rocks in the walls of fracture zones.
Also published as: Journal of Geophysical Research 85 (1980): 3759-3777
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Detrick, R. S., & Purdy, G. M. (1980). The crustal structure of the Kane fracture zone from seismic refraction studies. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
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