Paleomagnetic constraints on deformation of superfast-spread oceanic crust exposed at Pito Deep Rift

A. J. Horst, R. J. Varga, J. S. Gee, J. A. Karson

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10 Scopus citations


The uppermost oceanic crust produced at the superfast spreading (∼142 km Ma-1, full-spreading rate) southern East Pacific Rise (EPR) during the Gauss Chron is exposed in a tectonic window along the northeastern wall of the Pito Deep Rift. Paleomagnetic analysis of fully oriented dike (62) and gabbro (5) samples from two adjacent study areas yield bootstrapped mean remanence directions of 38.9° ± 8.1°, -16.7° ± 15.6, n = 23 (Area A) and 30.4° ± 8.0°, -25.1° ± 12.9°, n = 44 (Area B), both are significantly distinct from the Geocentric Axial Dipole expected direction at 23° S. Regional tectonics and outcrop-scale structural data combined with bootstrapped remanence directions constrain models that involve a sequence of three rotations that result in dikes restored to subvertical orientations related to (1) inward-tilting of crustal blocks during spreading (Area A = 11°, Area B = 22°), (2) clockwise, vertical-axis rotation of the Easter Microplate (A = 46°, B = 44°), and (3) block tilting at Pito Deep Rift (A = 21°, B = 10°). These data support a structural model for accretion at the southern EPR in which outcrop-scale faulting and block rotation accommodates spreading-related subaxial subsidence that is generally less than that observed in crust generated at a fast spreading rate exposed at Hess Deep Rift. These data also support previous estimates for the clockwise rotation of crust adjacent to the Easter Microplate. Dike sample natural remanent magnetization (NRM) has an arithmetic mean of 5.96 A/m 3.76, which suggests that they significantly contribute to observed magnetic anomalies from fast- to superfast-spread crust.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberB12103
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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