One of the most puzzling characteristics of sea-floor morphology is the occurrence of anomalously shallow, fracture-zone–parallel, oceanic transverse ridges. A model is proposed for the formation of transverse ridges near lat 21° and 24°N on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in which the differential responses of large-offset and small-offset fracture zones to recent changes in spreading direction result in the generation of normal faults that coincide with the off-axis traces of fracture zones. Numerical models of the flexural response of the lithosphere to normal faulting suggest that modest amounts of extension (<5 km) along low-angle faults (<45°) are responsible for the transverse ridges.

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