Local seismicity of the Rainbow massif on the Mid‐Atlantic Ridge

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Horning, Gregory W.
Sohn, Robert A.
Canales, J. Pablo
Dunn, Robert A.
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Mid‐ocean ridge
Ultramafic massif
The Rainbow massif, an oceanic core complex located in a nontransform discontinuity on the Mid‐Atlantic Ridge (36°N), is notable for hosting high‐temperature hydrothermal discharge through ultramafic rocks. Here we report results from a 9 month microearthquake survey conducted with a network of 13 ocean bottom seismometers deployed on and around the Rainbow massif as part of the MARINER experiment in 2013–2014. High rates (~300 per day) of low‐magnitude (average ML ~ 0.5) microearthquakes were detected beneath the massif. The hypocenters do not cluster along deeply penetrating fault surfaces and do not exhibit mainshock/aftershock sequences, supporting the hypothesis that the faulting associated with the exhumation of the massif is currently inactive. Instead, the hypocenters demarcate a diffuse zone of continuous, low‐magnitude deformation at relatively shallow (< ~3 km) depths beneath the massif, sandwiched in between the seafloor and seismic reflectors interpreted to be magmatic sills driving hydrothermal convection. Most of the seismicity is located in regions where seismic refraction data indicate serpentinized ultramafic host rock, and although the seismic network we deployed was not capable of constraining the focal mechanism of most events, our analysis suggests that serpentinization may play an important role in microearthquake generation at the Rainbow massif.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2018. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 123 (2018): 1615-1630, doi:10.1002/2017JB015288.
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Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 123 (2018): 1615-1630
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