Hess Deep rift valley structure from seismic tomography

Wiggins, SM, Dorman LRM, Cornuelle BD, Hildebrand JA.  1996.  Hess Deep rift valley structure from seismic tomography. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 101:22335-22353.

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East Pacific Rise, evolution, galapagos triple junction, seafloor, spread profiles, tectonics, young oceanic-crust


We present results from a seismic refraction experiment conducted across the Hess Deep rift valley in the equatorial east Pacific. P wave travel times between seafloor explosions and ocean bottom seismographs are analyzed using an iterative stochastic inverse method to produce a velocity model of the subsurface structure. The resulting velocity model differs from typical young, fast spreading, East Pacific Rise crust by approximately +/-1 km/s with slow velocities beneath the valley of the deep and a fast region forming the intrarift ridge. We interpret these velocity contrasts as lithologies originating at different depths and/or alteration of the preexisting rock units. We use our seismic model, along with petrologic and bathymetric data from previous studies, to produce a structural model. The model supports low-angle detachment faulting with serpentinization of peridotite as the preferred mechanism for creating the distribution and exposure of lower crustal and upper mantle rocks within Hess Deep.