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Abstract

Over 30 years ago G. P. L. Walker wrote an article in Nature on excess spreading axes and spreading rate in Iceland. His statement that ‘the spreading rate is several times greater in part of Iceland than elsewhere on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge’ was immediately rejected and has rarely been discussed since. The problem of excess spreading in Iceland has appeared in various ways in the geological data obtained since that time. Here the drift (spreading half-rates) of several central volcanoes is studied to find out the behaviour of the spreading in Iceland. All the volcanoes seem to be drifting faster than the accepted spreading rate in the North Atlantic. The mean rate is 70% greater than on the ocean floor around Iceland. The spreading has been essentially symmetric about the rift zone axis. The enhanced spreading seems to evince a steady and long-lasting geological process because the behaviour of young and ancient volcanoes is similar.

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