Advanced Seismic Studies of the Endeavour Ridge: Understanding the Interplay among Magmatic, Hydrothermal, and Tectonic Processes at Mid-Ocean Ridges

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Gillean M Arnoux1, Brandon Paul VanderBeek1, Joanna V Morgan2, Emilie E E Hooft1, Douglas R Toomey1, William S D Wilcock3 and Michael Warner4, (1)University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, United States, (2)Imperial College London, London, SW7, United Kingdom, (3)University of Washington Seattle Campus, Seattle, WA, United States, (4)Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom
At mid-ocean ridges magmatic, hydrothermal, and tectonic processes are linked. Understanding their interactions requires mapping magmatic systems and tectonic structures, as well as their relationship to hydrothermal circulation. Three-dimensional seismic images of the crust can be used to infer the size, shape, and location of magma reservoirs, in addition to the structure of the thermal boundary layer that connects magmatic and hydrothermal processes. Travel time tomography has often been used to study these processes, however, the spatial resolution of travel time tomography is limited.

Three-dimensional full waveform inversion (FWI) is a state-of-the art seismic method developed for use in the oil industry to obtain high-resolution models of the velocity structure. The primary advantage of FWI is that it has the potential to resolve subsurface structures on the order of half the seismic wavelength—a significant improvement on conventional travel time tomography. Here, we apply anisotropic FWI to data collected on the Endeavour segment of the Juan de Fuca Ridge. Starting models for anisotropic P-wave velocity were obtained by travel time tomography [Weekly et al., 2014]. During FWI, the isotropic velocity model is updated and anisotropy is held constant.

We have recovered low-velocity zones approximately 2-3 km beneath the ridge axis that likely correspond to a segmented magma-rich body and are in concert with those previously resolved using multi-channel seismic reflection methods. The segmented crustal magma body underlies all five known high-temperature hydrothermal vent fields along the Endeavour segment. A high-velocity zone, shallower than the observed low-velocity zones, underlies the southernmost hydrothermal vent field. This may be indicative of waning hydrothermal activity in which minerals are crystallizing beneath the vent field. Our FWI study of the Endeavour Ridge will provide the most detailed three-dimensional images of the crustal structure to date over a spreading center.