On origin of near-axis volcanism and faulting at fast spreading mid-ocean ridges

Fialko, Y.  2001.  On origin of near-axis volcanism and faulting at fast spreading mid-ocean ridges. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 190:31-39.

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abyssal hills, accretion, beneath, crest, crustal, East Pacific Rise, fracture, magma, magmas, mid-ocean ridges, midocean ridges, models, oman ophiolite, rift zones, seismic reflectivity, sills


At fast and superfast spreading mid-ocean ridges, such as the East Pacific Rise, a plate boundary is defined by a narrow (tens to hundreds of meters wide) neovolcanic zone within which the bulk of the upper oceanic crust is created. However, detailed near-bottom observations indicate that the volcanic construction may occasionally persist several kilometers off of the ridge axis. It has been proposed that off-axis volcanism manifests tapping of a wide melting region that supplies magma to the ridge axis, or spatial migration of magmatic sources in the crust and upper mantle. We demonstrate that off-axis eruptions may be a natural consequence of variations in magma supply rate even if the ridge axis is stationary in space, and the magma delivery is perfectly focussed at the ridge axis. Theoretical modeling and field observations indicate that off-axis volcanisin may result from magma emplacement in sills that propagate toward the surface after their characteristic horizontal size exceeds their emplacement depth. Volcanic construction and faulting due to sill intrusions may contribute to the formation of abyssal hills, arguably the most abundant relief form on Earth. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.