Emplacement of deep crustal and mantle rocks on the west median valley wall of the MARK area (MAR, 23°N)

Catherine Mével, Mathilde Cannat, Pascal Gente, Eva Marion, J. M. Auzende, J. A. Karson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


Exposures of deep crustal and mantle rocks within the axial rift valley characterize accretion processes in the slow-spreading Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Nine dives of the submersible Nautile explored the western axial valley wall in the northern cell of the MARK area (Mid-Atlantic Ridge/Kane fracture zone), where peridotite and gabbro outcrops had been previously reported, in order to constrain the structure and determine emplacement mechanisms. The ridge/transform intersection massif on the western wall shows a section of gabbros from 6000 to 2500 mbsl, locally overlain by metabasalts and metadolerites, capped by slightly weathered basalts. The morphology is controlled by ridge-parallel faults, dipping moderately (40-65°) to the east. Transform-parallel scarps, present in the northernmost dives, become rare toward the south. Brittle deformation, along moderately dipping fault scarps, produced a dense microcrack network filled with greenschist facies minerals (chlorite, actinolite, epidote, quartz), locally overprinting high-temperature ductile deformation fabrics. The small hill located at 23°20′ in the western wall shows good exposures of serpentinized peridotite between 3700 and 3100 mbsl. Above 3100 mbsl, the summit of the hill is composed of pillow-basalts and sediments. The peridotite outerops display a strong schistosity dipping 20-40° to the east, parallel to striated normal fault planes. Some steeper east-facing fault scarps truncate the lower-dipping fault surfaces. The serpentinites, deriving from a harzburgitic protolith, are cut by rare dikelets of highly differentiated gabbro. These new data, combined with previous results of Alvin dives, are used to draw a generalized geological map of the western axial valley wall. This map suggests a variation in the thickness of crustal units and composition along strike in the northern cell of the MARK area: the gabbro body disappears toward the south where basalts appear to directly overlie the mantle peridotites which are cut by isolated gabbroic dikelets. Low-angle stretching affecting this heterogeneous lithosphere is probably responsible for the exposure of gabbros in the intersection massif and of peridotites further south.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-53
Number of pages23
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 20 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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