ReportOceanography

Glacial cycles drive variations in the production of oceanic crust

Science  05 Feb 2015:

DOI: 10.1126/science.1261508

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Abstract

Glacial cycles redistribute water between oceans and continents causing pressure changes in the upper mantle, with consequences for melting of Earth’s interior. Using Plio-Pleistocene sea-level variations as a forcing function, theoretical models of mid-ocean ridge dynamics that include melt transport predict temporal variations in crustal thickness of hundreds of meters. New bathymetry from the Australian-Antarctic ridge shows statistically significant spectral energy near the Milankovitch periods of 23, 41, and 100 ky, consistent with model predictions. These results suggest that abyssal hills, one of the most common bathymetric features on Earth, record the magmatic response to changes in sea level. The models and data support a link between glacial cycles at the surface and mantle melting at depth, recorded in the bathymetric fabric of the sea floor.

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