Abstract

Surface sediments from a transect across the mid-ocean ridge north of Iceland (Kolbeinsey Ridge) have been analyzed according to their compositional, textural and hydromechanical characteristics. The results were used to reconstruct sediment formation and depositional processes. The ridge sediments are dominated by volcaniclastic particles of hyaloclastic and pyroclastic origin. These particles show a wide variety in size, shape and density. Single-grain settling velocities of the different glass types reveal the suitability of this parameter as a reflector of the particle properties of size, shape and density, which are also known to be relevant to grain transport. Observations concerning different current expositions of central ridge sediments, combined with the parameters of settling velocity distribution, grain-size distribution and sediment particle composition, were applied to distinguish between transport association with rare, easily movable glass shards and poorly sorted sediments in sheltered ponds. A bimodal settling velocity distribution of steep ridge-flank sediments probably indicates the effect of sediment admixture from poorly sorted mass flows. Alternating coarse- and fine-grained layers characterize the transition between ridge-glass sands and the ridge-adjacent plain, which is dominated by slow-settling pelagic material.

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