Abstract

A new three-dimensional tomographic velocity model and depth-converted reflection images of the melt sills beneath the 9°03′N overlapping spreading center on the East Pacific Rise show that the upper crustal construction at this ridge discontinuity is highly asymmetric with reference to the bathymetric ridge crests of the overlapping limbs. Despite the similarly curved ridge crests, the asymmetries are markedly different under the two limbs and appear to be related to the contrasting evolutionary history of the limbs. The overlap basin is closely related to the propagating eastern limb in terms of its seismic structure. By contrast, the western limb forms a distinct morphologic region that displays little structural relationship to the adjacent overlap basin and other relict basins. As the overlapping spreading center is migrating southward, the differential development of melt sills and ridge crests may be inferred from the results of this study. Ridge propagation appears to involve two major processes: the advancement of the melt sill at the ridge tip and the development of ridge-crest morphology and the neovolcanic axis to the north of the overlap basin region near the existing propagating limb. The latter process may result in the abandonment of the current neovolcanic axis, leading to the self-decapitation of the propagating limb. By contrast, the self-decapitation of the western limb is related to the receding melt sill, which lags behind the anticlockwise rotational motion of the ridge crest.

You do not currently have access to this article.