Three dives in submersible ALVIN and four deep-towed camera lowerings have been made along the transform valley of the Oceanographer Transform. These data constrain our understanding of the processes that create and shape the distinctive morphology that is characteristic of slowly slipping ridge-transform-ridge (RTR) plate boundaries. Our data suggest that the locus of strike-slip tectonism, called the transform fault zone (TFZ), is confined to a narrow swath (<4 km) that is centered along the axis of maximum depth. The TFZ is flanked by the inward facing slopes of the transform valley. The lower portions of the valley walls are characterized by broad sloping exposures of undisrupted sediment but at higher elevations the walls are made up of inward facing scarps and terraces of variable dimensions. Although the scarps have been badly degraded by mass wasting, there is no evidence to suggest that these scarps have accommodated significant amounts of strike-slip motion. Plutonic and ultramafic rocks are exposed on these scarps and the occurrence of this diverse assemblage on small-throw faults indicates that the crust is thin and/or discontinuous in this environment. We suggest that this complex igneous assemblage is the product of anomalous accretionary processes that are characteristic of slowly-slipping RTR plate boundaries.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology