Widespread active detachment faulting and core complex formation near 13°N on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge
Smith, Deborah K.
Cann, Johnson R.
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Oceanic core complexes are massifs in which lower crustal and upper mantle rocks are exposed at the sea floor. They form at mid-ocean ridges through slip on detachment faults rooted below the spreading axis. To date, most studies of core complexes have been based on isolated inactive massifs that have spread away from ridge axes. A new survey of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) near 13°N reveals a segment in which a number of linked detachment faults extend for 75 km along one flank of the spreading axis. The detachment faults are apparently all currently active and at various stages of development. A field of extinct core complexes extends away from the axis for at least 100 km. The new data document the topographic characteristics of actively-forming core complexes and their evolution from initiation within the axial valley floor to maturity and eventual inactivity. Within the surrounding region there is a strong correlation between detachment fault morphology at the ridge axis and high rates of hydroacoustically-recorded earthquake seismicity. Preliminary examination of seismicity and seafloor morphology farther north along the MAR suggests that active detachment faulting is occurring in many segments and that detachment faulting is more important in the generation of ocean crust at this slow-spreading ridge than previously suspected.
Author Posting. © Nature Publishing Group, 2006. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Nature Publishing Group for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Nature 442 (2006): 440-443, doi:10.1038/nature04950.