Seismic Structure of the Southern East Pacific Rise

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Science  22 Jan 1993:
Vol. 259, Issue 5094, pp. 499-503
DOI: 10.1126/science.259.5094.499


Seismic data from the ultrafast-spreading (150 to 162 millimeters per year) southern East Pacific Rise show that the rise axis is underlain by a thin (less than 200 meters thick) extrusive volcanic layer (seismic layer 2A) that thickens rapidly off axis. Also beneath the rise axis is a narrow (less than 1 kilometer wide) melt sill that is in some places less than 1000 meters below the sea floor. The small dimensions of this molten body indicate that magma chamber size does not depend strongly on spreading rate as predicted by many ridge-crest thermal models. However, the shallow depth of this body is consistent with an inverse correlation between magma chamber depth and spreading rate. These observations indicate that the paradigm of ridge crest magma chambers as small, sill-like, midcrustal bodies is applicable to a wide range of intermediate- and fast-spreading ridges.