Abstract

Studies of ocean ridge magmatism have been hampered by the difficulty in constructing time-series data over more than a few thousand years. Sediment rapidly covers newly formed ocean crust, and older rocks, even when recovered from fault scarps, cannot be dated accurately. Ridge eruptions, however, disperse pyroclastic glass over distances as far as 5 km, and these glasses have been shown to persist for thousands of years in on-ridge sediment push cores. Here we present data on such glasses from a piston core that impacted basement in much older (600 ka) sediment. The age of deposition was determined using established stratigraphic methods to date the host sediment, yielding an average sample resolution of a few thousand years and a continuous 65 k.y. time series. The new time-series data show systematic temporal variations in magma compositions related to a change to the dynamics of crustal storage, which led to greater extents of pre-eruptive differentiation. Shortly thereafter was a small but discernable shift toward more enriched primary melt compositions. These events coincide with the onset of enhanced crustal production, previously identified using seismic data and interpreted to reflect the capture of a hotspot by the ridge. These results show the long-term preservation of pyroclastic glasses and suggest that the construction of high-resolution volcanic stratigraphy over a million years or more may be possible at ocean ridges, using multiple piston cores that impact basement. Sediment-hosted glasses have the potential to transform ocean ridges from the volcanic setting with the worst time-series data to that with the best.

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