Abstract

Near-bottom sidescan, bathymetric, and visual observations of fault scarps in 4–24 Ma sea floor show that basaltic ocean crust undergoes extensive denudation that creates wide, complex scarp zones. Most denudation is caused by mass wasting, probably accompanied by abrasion by disaggregated debris. In 11–24 Ma crust, trellis drainage patterns are formed by deep cross-scarp canyons and intersecting scarp-parallel gullies that appear to follow weak zones of fracturing and intracrustal weathering. Until stabilized (e.g., by sediment burial), fault scarps will continue to degrade with time, yielding increasingly distorted representations of apparent fault geometry in remotely sensed morphological data.

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