Galicia Bank Ocean-Continent Transition Zone: New Seismic Reflection Constraints

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Sarah L Dean1, Dale S Sawyer2 and Julia K Morgan2, (1)Shell Houston, Houston, TX, United States, (2)Rice University, Houston, TX, United States
The West Iberia continental margin is a type locale for magma-poor rifting, and studies there have been instrumental in changing the classical view of the ocean-continent transition (OCT) from a discrete boundary juxtaposing continental and oceanic crust, into a more complicated zone of varying width that can include exhumed mantle. This study examines two new seismic lines in the Galicia Bank area extending west of the Peridotite Ridge, showing high resolution images of five new ridges. These ridges could be hyperextended continental crust, exhumed continental mantle, or rough ultra-slow spreading oceanic crust. There are no tilted fault blocks with pre-syn rift stratigraphy that would indicate continental crust. There are also no faults indicating mid-ocean spreading with seismic layer stratigraphy indicating normal oceanic crust. The ridges have no coherent internal seismic structure, and some resemble the topographic profile of the Peridotite Ridge. Therefore, it is likely the western ridges are also mainly composed of serpentinized mantle. These western ridges are also similar to small oceanic core complexes observed along the active part of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which also contain exhumed serpentinized mantle. This implies that there is a gradual transition within our study area from continental extension to seafloor spreading. Exhumation of continental mantle results in the formation of peridotite ridges, then transitions to episodic volcanism, which produces local thin basaltic crust, and exhumation of oceanic core complexes. Asymmetric processes during initial rifting and spreading results in contrasting structures on the two resulting margins.