Abstract

Sheeted dikes play a central role in the formation of oceanic crust. It is commonly assumed that sheeted dikes intrude vertically upward, from elongated mid-ocean ridge (MOR) magma chambers, but there are no direct observational data bearing on this hypothesis. This assumption contrasts with the intrusive behavior of subaerial volcanoes where magmas rise into shallow central magma chambers that laterally feed vertically oriented dikes. We have studied intrusive directions of sheeted dikes in a structural analogue to oceanic crust, the Troodos ophiolite. Structural and magnetic fabric data of 65 dikes provide consistent results and suggest a broad distribution of shallow (<20°) to nearly vertical, upward magma-transport directions. These data suggest that horizontal emplacement has to be considered for sheeted dikes at MORs, implying more centralized MOR plumbing systems than previously thought. Such plumbing systems provide ample opportunity for complex mixing, fractionation, and contamination of MOR lavas in magma chambers and tabular magma-storage volumes. Whether the MOR magma supply is linear or centralized also has a fundamental effect on crustal accretion processes and the geometry of hydrothermal convection systems.

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