Publications

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2015
Greene, JA, Tominaga M, Blackman DK.  2015.  Geologic implications of seafloor character and carbonate lithification imaged on the domal core of Atlantis Massif. Deep-Sea Research Part Ii-Topical Studies in Oceanography. 121:246-255.   10.1016/j.dsr2.2015.06.020   AbstractWebsite

We document the seafloor character on Atlantis Massif, an ocean core complex located at 30 degrees N on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, with an emphasis on the distribution of carbonate features. Seafloor imagery, near-bottom backscatter, and bathymetry were analyzed on the Central Dome and the Western Shoulder of the exposed footwall to the detachment, and on the Eastern Block, a hanging wall to the fault. We merged Argo II still images to produce photo-mosaics and evaluated these together with video imagery, acoustic reflectivity, and basic rock composition. The seafloor was classified as unconsolidated sediment, lithified carbonate crust, consolidated carbonate cap, exposed basement, or rubble, and the spatial distribution of each type was assessed. Unconsolidated sediment, exposed basement, and rubble were documented in all three regions studied. Lithified carbonate crust was also present on the Western Shoulder and eastern Central Dome. Consolidated carbonate cap was found on the Eastern Block. The formation of the carbonate rock is interpreted to reflect precipitation and/or sediment cementation via fluids derived from serpentinization. Both processes occur at the nearby Lost City Hydrothermal Field. The newly documented locations of seafloor carbonate lithification therefore mark pathways of past, possibly recent, fluid flux from subsurface water-rock reaction zones and represent an additional constituent of the carbon cycling hosted by oceanic lithosphere. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Wei, SS, Wiens DA, Zha Y, Plank T, Webb SC, Blackman DK, Dunn RA, Conder JA.  2015.  Seismic evidence of effects of water on melt transport in the Lau back-arc mantle. Nature. 518   10.1038/nature14113   AbstractWebsite

Processes of melt generation and transport beneath back-arc spreading centres are controlled by two endmember mechanisms: decompression melting similar to that at mid-ocean ridges and flux melting resembling that beneath arcs'. The Lau Basin, with an abundance of spreading ridges at different distances from the subduction zone, provides an opportunity to distinguish the effects of these two different melting processes on magma production and crust formation. Here we present constraints on the three-dimensional distribution of partial melt inferred from seismic velocities obtained from Rayleigh wave tomography using land and ocean-bottom seismographs. Low seismic velocities beneath the Central Lau Spreading Centre and the northern Eastern Lau Spreading Centre extend deeper and westwards into the back-arc, suggesting that these spreading centres are fed by melting along upwelling zones from the west, and helping to explain geochemical differences with the Valu Fa Ridge to the south(2), which has no distinct deep low-seismic-velocity anomalies. A region of low S-wave velocity, interpreted as resulting from high melt content, is imaged in the mantle wedge beneath the Central Lau Spreading Centre and the northeastern Lau Basin, even where no active spreading centre currently exists. This low-seismic-velocity anomaly becomes weaker with distance southward along the Eastern Lau Spreading Centre and the Valu Fa Ridge, in contrast to the inferred increase in magmatic productivity(1). We propose that the anomaly variations result from changes in the efficiency of melt extraction, with the decrease in melt to the south correlating with increased fractional melting and higher water content in the magma. Water released from the slab may greatly reduce the melt viscosity(3) or increase grain size(4), or both, thereby facilitating melt transport.

2005
van Wijk, JW, Blackman DK.  2005.  Dynamics of continental rift propagation: the end-member modes. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 229:247-258.   10.1016/j.epsl.2004.10.039   AbstractWebsite

An important aspect of continental rifting is the progressive variation of deformation style along the rift axis during rift propagation. In regions of rift propagation, specifically transition zones from continental rifting to seafloor spreading, it has been observed that contrasting styles of deformation along the axis of rift propagation are bounded by shear zones. The focus of this numerical modeling study is to look at dynamic processes near the tip of a weak zone in continental lithosphere. More specifically, this study explores how modeled rift behavior depends on the value of rheological parameters of the crust. A three-dimensional finite element model is used to simulate lithosphere deformation in an extensional regime. The chosen approach emphasizes understanding the tectonic forces involved in rift propagation. Dependent on plate strength, two end-member modes are distinguished. The stalled rift phase is characterized by absence of rift propagation for a certain amount of time. Extension beyond the edge of the rift tip is no longer localized but occurs over a very wide zone, which requires a buildup of shear stresses near the rift tip and significant intra-plate deformation. This stage represents a situation in which a rift meets a locked zone. Localized deformation changes to distributed deformation in the locked zone, and the two different deformation styles are balanced by a shear zone oriented perpendicular to the trend. In the alternative rift propagation mode, rift propagation is a continuous process when the initial crust is weak. The extension style does not change significantly along the rift axis and lengthening of the rift zone is not accompanied by a buildup of shear stresses. Model predictions address aspects of previously unexplained rift evolution in the Laptev Sea, and its contrast with the tectonic evolution of, for example, the Gulf of Aden and Woodlark Basin. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

2003
Nooner, SL, Sasagawa GS, Blackman DK, Zumberge MA.  2003.  Structure of oceanic core complexes: Constraints from seafloor gravity measurements made at the Atlantis Massif. Geophysical Research Letters. 30   10.1029/2003gl017126   AbstractWebsite

[1] Using the DSV Alvin, the relative seafloor gravimeter ROVDOG was deployed at 18 sites on the Atlantis Massif (located at the ridge-transform intersection of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the Atlantis Transform Fault near 30degreesN, 42degreesW). These data along with previously collected shipboard gravity and bathymetry provide constraints on the density structure of this oceanic core complex. A series of quasi 3-D forward models suggests that symmetric east and west-dipping density interfaces bound the core of the massif with dip angles of 16degrees-24degrees in the east and 16degrees-28degrees in the west, creating a wedge with a density of 3150-3250 kg/m(3). The dip angle in the east is steeper than that of the surface slope, suggesting that the detachment fault surface does not coincide with the density boundary. The resulting low-density layer is interpreted as a zone of serpentinization.