Heat flow measurements indicate hydrothermal activity in oceanic crust continues at least for 65 m.y. after formation. Hydrothermal activity progressively fills cracks and pores with alteration products, which is expected to lead to a trend of increasing seismic velocities with age. Compilations of seismic-P-wave velocity models inverted from ocean bottom seismometer (OBS) data have failed to detect such an aging trend beyond crustal ages of ca. 10 Ma. However, in these models, the velocities of the uppermost crust, where fluid flow would be most concentrated, are poorly resolved. This is because as the oceanic crust matures, the first crustal arrivals on OBS records (which best resolve upper crustal velocities using tomographic inversion), become hidden in the coda of the water wave. This may lead to the masking of any aging trend in the seismic velocities. For the first time, we show how including downward continuation (DC) in the analysis of OBS data collected across 65 Ma seafloor significantly improves measurements of the P-wave velocities of the upper crust. Our new analysis reveals a highly heterogeneous upper crust, with ridge-parallel P-wave velocity variations of 25%, implying local porosity values that are up to double that of global averages. Our new results, combined with other most recent advanced seismic analyses, reveal that seismic velocities indeed evolve with age up to at least 70 Ma, confirming that hydrothermal activity continues in mature oceanic crust.

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