Abstract

The submarine Mascarene Plateau, lying east and northeast of Madagascar in the west central Indian Ocean, extends as a faulted composite arc for 2300 km, from the Precambrian granitic “micro-continent” of Seychelles Bank southward through the coral–reef–capped volcanic structures (?) of Saya de Malha, Nazareth, and Cargados Carajos banks to the faulted Tertiary–Quaternary oceanic volcanic island Mauritius. Locally the aseismic plateau is buttressed by spurs, is steep-sided and angular in plan, or is extended, disrupted, or offset by cross–faulting.

Other major structural elements in a sector centered on the Mascarene Plateau are: (1) the seismically active Mid-Indian Ocean Ridge and rift zone (including that portion known as the Carlsberg Ridge) between the equator and its bifurcation near 23°S.; (2) the angular and faulted Amirante Trench lying between Seychelles Bank and the Madagascar-Farquhar complex; (3) the east–west late Tertiary–Pleistocene Rodriguez Ridge and its possible extension eastward as a fracture zone offsetting the Mid-Indian Ocean Ridge; (4) the Mauritius Trench, a 1400-km border deep-trending southwest from east of Mauritius to 28°S., 51°E. Irregular topography, attributed to volcanism and block faulting, is strikingly developed southeast of the intersection of Rodriguez Ridge with the Mascarene Plateau. Here linear, slightly sedimented deeps and narrow ridges lie subparallel to Mauritius Trench and to the southwest branch of the Mid-Indian Ocean Ridge.

Except in the northwest sector where northwest and north trends lie within the Agalega–Seychelles–Amirante–Owen Fracture Zone complex, the dominant topographic lineations are northeast to east–northeast. These are displayed by large features such as fractures offsetting the mid-oceanic ridge (for example, Vema Trench), the Mauritius Trench and the linear topography southeast of Mauritius, the apparent offsets of the southern half of the Mascarene Plateau, spurs on the west flank of the mid-oceanic ridge, and the smaller ridges protruding; from the sedimented rise and abyssal plain between Tromelin and the Mascarene Plateau. Offsets of the Mascarene Plateau along northeast-trending faults-occurred in Tertiary time as adjustments accompanying formation of the Mascarene Basin. Activity on several of these faults has continued where they intersect the crestal portions of the mid-oceanic ridge system, but growth of the exceedingly rough, ridge in this region is primarily by addition of igneous material along its axis.

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