Young off-axis volcanism along the ultraslow-spreading Southwest Indian Ridge
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Mid-ocean ridge crustal accretion occurs continuously at all spreading rates through a combination of magmatic and tectonic processes. Fast to slow spreading ridges are largely built by adding magma to narrowly focused neovolcanic zones. In contrast, ultraslow spreading ridge construction significantly relies on tectonic accretion, which is characterized by thin volcanic crust, emplacement of mantle peridotite directly to the seafloor, and unique seafloor fabrics with variable segmentation patterns. While advances in remote imaging have enhanced our observational understanding of crustal accretion at all spreading rates, temporal information is required in order to quantitatively understand mid-ocean ridge construction. However, temporal information does not exist for ultraslow spreading environments. Here, we utilize U-series eruption ages to investigate crustal accretion at an ultraslow spreading ridge for the first time. Unexpectedly young eruption ages throughout the Southwest Indian ridge rift valley indicate that neovolcanic activity is not confined to the spreading axis, and that magmatic crustal accretion occurs over a wider zone than at faster spreading ridges. These observations not only suggest that crustal accretion at ultraslow spreading ridges is distinct from faster spreading ridges, but also that the magma transport mechanisms may differ as a function of spreading rate.
Author Posting. © The Authors, 2010. 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 Geoscience 3 (2010): 286-292, doi:10.1038/ngeo824.