Geophysical evidence from the MELT area for compositional controls on oceanic plates
Evans, Rob L.
Forsyth, Donald W.
Chave, Alan D.
Mackie, Randall L.
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Magnetotelluric (MT) and seismic data, collected during the MELT experiment at the Southern East Pacific Rise (SEPR) constrain the distribution of melt beneath this mid-ocean-ridge spreading center and also the evolution of the oceanic lithosphere during its early cooling history. In this paper, we focus on structure imaged at distances ~100 to 350 km east of the ridge crest, corresponding to seafloor ages of ~1.3 to 4.5 Ma, where the seismic and electrical conductivity structure is nearly constant, independent of age. Beginning at a depth of about 60 km, there is a large increase in electrical conductivity and a change from isotropic to transversely anisotropic electrical structure with higher conductivity in the direction of fast propagation for seismic waves. Because conductive cooling models predict structure that increases in depth with age, extending to about 30 km at 4.5 Ma, we infer that the structure of young oceanic plates is instead controlled by a decrease in water content above 60 km induced by the melting process beneath the spreading center.
Author Posting. © The Authors, 2005. 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 437 (2005): 249-252, doi:10.1038/nature04014.