Fissure Basalts and Ocean-Floor Spreading on the East Pacific Rise

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Science  30 Aug 1968:
Vol. 161, Issue 3844, pp. 886-888
DOI: 10.1126/science.161.3844.886


A basalt pavement outcrops almost continuously in a band along the crestal region of the East Pacific Rise from about 14°S to 6°S, that is, for more than 800 ikilometers; the outcrop may well extend beyond the above limits along the axis of the rise. The basalt band is generally between 40 and 60 kilometers wide and is replaced laterally by sediment. The lavas are fresh, "oceanic tholeiites" which were emplaced less than I million years ago by fissure eruptions. These findings, can be explained by the hypothesis of ocean-floor spreading; the basalts are the expression of material originating from the mantle and rising through fissures along the axis of the ridge. The absence of an axial rift valley on the East Pacific Rise may be explained by the fact that large volumes of lava are being outpoured along its crest.