Along-Axis Structure and Crustal Construction Processes of Spreading Segments in Iceland: Implications for Magmatic Rifts

D. L. Siler, Jeffrey Alan Karson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Magmatic rift systems are composed of discrete spreading segments defined by morphologic, structural, and volcanic features that vary systematically along strike. In Iceland, structural features mapped in the glaciated and exhumed Miocene age upper crust correlate with analogous features in the seismically and volcanically active neovolcanic zone. Integrating information from both the active rift zones and ancient crust provides a three-dimensional perspective of crustal structure and the volcanic and tectonic processes that construct crust along spreading segments. Crustal exposures in the Skagi region of northern Iceland reveal significant along-strike variations in geologic structure. The upper crust at exhumed magmatic centers (segment centers) is characterized by a variety of intrusive rocks, high-temperature hydrothermal alteration, and geologic evidence for kilometer-scale subsidence. In contrast, the upper crust along segment limbs, which extend along strike from magmatic centers, is characterized by thick sections of gently dipping lava flows, cut by varying proportions of subvertical dikes. This structure implies relatively minor upper crustal subsidence and lateral dike intrusion. The differing modes of subsidence beneath segment centers and segment limbs require along-axis mass redistribution in the underlying upper, middle, and lower crust during crustal construction. This along-axis material transport is accomplished through lateral dike intrusion in the upper crust and by along-axis flow of magmatic to high-temperature solid-state gabbroic material in the middle and lower crust. These processes, inferred from outcrop evidence in Skagi, are consistent with processes inferred to be important during active rifting in Iceland and at analogous magmatic oceanic and continental rifts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2068-2084
Number of pages17
JournalTectonics
Volume36
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017

Keywords

  • crustal structure
  • Iceland
  • magmatic rifts
  • seafloor spreading
  • segmentation
  • subsidence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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