Abstract

Off-axis rock sampling in the lat 22°–24° N region of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge shows that the emplacement of mantle-derived rocks in the sea floor has been a common process there for the past few million years. We find a good correlation between domains of positive residual gravity anomalies (inferred to have a thin crust) and the distribution of ultramafic samples. We also find that thin-crust domains have a rugged topography, thought to reflect strong tectonic disruption. We propose that these thin-crust domains are made of tectonically uplifted ultramafic rocks, with gabbroic intrusions and a thin basaltic cover. We also suggest that strong tectonic disruption may be a direct consequence of the lithological and rheological heterogeneity of these thin-crust domains.

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