Length Scales of Magmatic Segments at Intermediate and Fast Spreading Ridges
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
A synthesis of observations from fast and magmatically-robust intermediate spreading ridges suggest that fine-scale tectonic segments, previously classified as 3rd order, correspond with principle magmatic segments along these ridges, each with their own magmatic plumbing system in the crust and shallow mantle. In this study, we use multi-beam sonar data available for fast and intermediate spreading ridges to determine the length distribution of these segments for comparison with the primary segmentation of the ridge axis found at slower spreading ridges. A study of intermediate, slow and ultraslow-spreading ridges using global satellite-derived bathymetry indicates a dominant segment length of 53 km [Briais and Rabinowicz, J. Geophys. Res. 2002]. However, satellite-derived bathymetry cannot be used to identify fine-scale tectonic segmentation of fast and magmatically-robust intermediate spreading ridges due to the subdued low-relief expression of ridge-axis discontinuities along these spreading rates. This study focuses on the well-mapped regions of the East Pacific Rise between 13.35°S and 18°N, and the Galapagos Spreading Center between 85° and 95.38° W. We reexamine tectonic segmentation of the ridge axis previously identified in the literature and modify the locations of ridge-axis discontinuities defining segment ends in regions where modern multi-beam bathymetric data coverage has improved relative to that available in early studies. Discontinuities of first, second, and third order are used to define tectonic segment lengths. Initial results show a mean segment length of 42 km (standard deviation of 27 km) and a median of 33 km, with 85 segments studied, similar to the segment length distributions observed at slower spreading ridges. To further evaluate the hypothesis of principle magmatic segments, we also examine the relationship between fine-scale tectonic segmentation and properties of the crustal magmatic system imaged in prior seismic studies of fast and intermediate spreading ridges.