Recent developments in knowledge of the structure of the central Atlantic clearly indicate that the magmatic crust is very thin and locally discontinuous in large areas of this ocean. Specifically, extensive outcrops of serpentinized mantle peridotites have been discovered along the present-day spreading axis away from fracture-zone scarps. These peculiar aspects of the present-day structure of a slow-spreading major ocean are found in the ophiolites of the western Alps as well as in the Ligurian ophiolites of the Apennines. This indicates that recent interpretations of the Alpine-Apennine ophiolites as remnants of poorly evolved "abnormal" ocean basins must be reconsidered.

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