Abstract

The North Atlantic Transect seismic reflection data, collected southwest of Bermuda, have been reinterpreted following post-stack migration and reveal two major intracrustal reflections. The shallower of these two events, located ∼1 s below the igneous basement, is a subhorizontal, undulating surface that in some places is continuous for as much as 10 km. On the basis of its position within the section and its laterally discontinuous nature, we believe that this upper crustal reflection corresponds to the intermittently sharp contact between the sheeted dikes and the underlying isotropic gabbro. A second set of lower crustal reflections, dipping ∼20°-40° eastward, is also prominent on the migrated profile and terminates downdip against the subhorizontal reflection Moho. Several lines of evidence argue against these features being either artifacts or out-of-the-plane events. Instead, their presence may be ascribed either to crustal-penetrating fault zones or to mafic-ultramafic cumulate layers frozen into the oceanic crust at the time of formation at the paleo-spreading center. Because of the laminated character of these events and their typical occurrence within 1.0 to 1.5 s of the reflection Moho, we prefer a compositional versus a structural interpretation for their origin.

The gradual thinning in the crust approaching the fracture zones is shown to be more complex than was originally inferred; although the interpretation that the crust gradually thins toward fracture zones may still apply in a few localities, significant departures are recognized elsewhere. Similarly, the improved image on the migrated profile documents an increase in complexity across the localized region directly surrounding the Blake Spur fracture zone. An interpretation advocating crustal thickening in this narrow zone is proposed as an alternative to the crustal-thinning model of Mutter and others.

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