Abstract

A full-waveform inversion of two-ship, wide-aperture, seismic reflection data from a ridge-crest seismic line at the southern East Pacific Rise indicates that the axial magma chamber here is about 50 m thick, is embedded within a solid roof, and has a solid floor. The 50–60-m-thick roof is overlain by a 150–200-m-thick low-velocity zone that may correspond to a fracture zone that hosts the hydrothermal circulation, and the roof itself may be the transition zone separating the magma chamber from circulating fluids. Furthermore, enhanced hydrothermal activity at the sea floor seems to be associated with a fresh supply of magma in the crust from the mantle. The presence of the solid floor indicates that at least the upper gabbros of the oceanic lower crust are formed by cooling and crystallization of melt in magma chambers.

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