Report

A Sea-Floor Spreading Event Captured by Seismometers

Science  22 Dec 2006:
Vol. 314, Issue 5807, pp. 1920-1922
DOI: 10.1126/science.1133950

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Abstract

Two-thirds of Earth's surface is formed at mid-ocean ridges, yet sea-floor spreading events are poorly understood because they occur far beneath the ocean surface. At 9°50'N on the East Pacific Rise, ocean-bottom seismometers recently recorded the microearthquake character of a mid-ocean ridge eruption, including precursory activity. A gradual ramp-up in activity rates since seismic monitoring began at this site in October 2003 suggests that eruptions may be forecast in the fast-spreading environment. The pattern culminates in an intense but brief (∼6-hour) inferred diking event on 22 January 2006, followed by rapid tapering to markedly decreased levels of seismicity.

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