Fault rotation and core complex formation: Significant processes in seafloor formation at slow-spreading mid-ocean ridges (Mid-Atlantic Ridge, 13°-15°N)

  • Smith D
  • Escartín J
  • Schouten H
 et al. 
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The region of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) between the Fifteen-Twenty and Marathon fracture zones displays the topographic characteristics of prevalent and vigorous tectonic extension. Normal faults show large amounts of rotation, dome-shaped corrugated detachment surfaces (core complexes) intersect the seafloor at the edge of the inner valley floor, and extinct core complexes cover the seafloor off-axis. We have identified 45 potential core complexes in this region whose locations are scattered everywhere along two segments (13° and 15°N segments). Steep outward-facing slopes suggest that the footwalls of many of the normal faults in these two segments have rotated by more than 30°. The rotation occurs very close to the ridge axis (as much as 20° within 5 km of the volcanic axis) and is complete by ∼1 My, producing distinctive linear ridges with roughly symmetrical slopes. This morphology is very different from linear abyssal hill faults formed at the 14°N magmatic segment, which display a smaller amount of rotation (typically

Author-supplied keywords

  • Detachment faulting
  • Fault rotation
  • Ocean core complex
  • Slow-spreading ridges

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