Structural Processes at Slow-Spreading Ridges

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Science  31 Jul 1992:
Vol. 257, Issue 5070, pp. 627-634
DOI: 10.1126/science.257.5070.627


Slow-spreading (<35 millimeters per year) mid-ocean ridges are dominated by segmented, asymmetric, rifted depressions like continental rifts. Fast-spreading ridges display symmetric, elevated volcanic edifices that vary in shape and size along axis. Deep earthquakes, major normal faults, and exposures of lower crustal rocks are common only along slow-spreading ridges. These contrasting features suggest that mechanical deformation is far more important in crustal formation at slow-spreading ridges than at fast-spreading ridges. New seismic images suggest that the nature and scale of segmentation of slow-spreading ridges is integral to the deformational process and not to magmatic processes that may control segmentation on fast-spreading ridges.