Direct evidence from anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility for lateral melt migration at superfast spreading centers

Robert J. Varga, Andrew J. Horst, Jeffrey S. Gee, Jeffrey A. Karson

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Abstract

Rare, fault-bounded escarpments expose natural cross sections of ocean crust in several areas and provide an unparalleled opportunity to study the end products of tectonic and magmatic processes that operated at depth beneath oceanic spreading centers. We mapped the geologic structure of ocean crust produced at the East Pacific Rise (EPR) and now exposed along steep cliffs of the Pito Deep Rift near the northern edge of the Easter microplate. The upper oceanic crust in this area is typified by basaltic lavas underlain by a sheeted dike complex comprising northeast striking, moderately to steeply southeast dipping dikes. Paleomagnetic remanence of oriented blocks of dikes collected with both Alvin and Jason II indicate clockwise rotation of -61- related to rotation of the microplate indicating structural coupling between the microplate and crust of the Nazca Plate to the north. The consistent southeast dip of dikes formed as the result of tilting at the EPR shortly after their injection. Anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility of dikes provides well-defined magmatic flow directions that are dominantly dike-parallel and shallowly plunging. Corrected to their original EPR orientation, magma flow is interpreted as near-horizontal and parallel to the ridge axis. These data provide the first direct evidence from sheeted dikes in ocean crust for along-axis magma transport. These results also suggest that lateral transport in dikes is important even at fast spreading ridges where a laterally continuous subaxial magma chamber is present.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberQ08008
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Volume9
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2008

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Keywords

  • Anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility
  • East Pacific Rise
  • Easter microplate
  • Magma migration
  • Spreading centers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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