Geophysical Characteristics of the Australian-Antarctic Ridge

Friday, 19 December 2014
Seung-Sep Kim1, Jian Lin2, Sung-hyun Park3, Hakkyum Choi1,3 and Sang-Mook Lee4, (1)Chungnam National University, Daejeon, South Korea, (2)Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst, Woods Hole, MA, United States, (3)KOPRI Korea Polar Research Institute, Incheon, South Korea, (4)Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea
Between 2011 and 2013, the Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI) conducted three consecutive geologic surveys at the little explored eastern ends of the Australian-Antarctic Ridge (AAR) to characterize the tectonics, geochemistry, and hydrothermal activity of this intermediate spreading system. Using the Korean icebreaker R/V Araon, the multi-disciplinary research team collected bathymetry, gravity, magnetics, and rock and water column samples. In addition, Miniature Autonomous Plume Recorders (MAPRs) were deployed at wax-core rock sampling sites to detect the presence of active hydrothermal vents. Here we present a detailed analysis of a 300-km-long supersegment of the AAR to quantify the spatial variations in ridge morphology and robust axial and off-axis volcanisms. The ridge axis morphology alternates between rift valleys and axial highs within relatively short ridge segments. To obtain a geological proxy for regional variations in magma supply, we calculated residual mantle Bouguer gravity anomalies (RMBA), gravity-derived crustal thickness, and residual topography for seven sub-segments. The results of the analyses revealed that the southern flank of the AAR is associated with shallower seafloor, more negative RMBA, thicker crust, and/or less dense mantle than the conjugate northern flank. Furthermore, this north-south asymmetry becomes more prominent toward the KR1 supersegment of the AAR. The axial topography of the KR1 supersegment exhibits a sharp transition from axial highs at the western end to rift valleys at the eastern end, with regions of axial highs being associated with more magma supply as indicated by more negative RMBA. We also compare and contrast the characteristics of the AAR supersegment with that of other ridges of intermediate spreading rates, including the Juan de Fuca Ridge, Galápagos Spreading Center, and Southeast Indian Ridge west of the Australian-Antarctic Discordance, to investigate the influence of ridge-hotspot interaction on ridge magma supply and tectonics.