A rifted inside corner massif on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at 5°S

T. J. Reston, W. Weinrebe, I. Grevemeyer, E. R. Flueh, N. C. Mitchell, L. Kirstein, C. Kopp, H. Kopp

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    The structure of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at 5°S was investigated during a recent cruise with the FS Meteor. A major dextral transform fault (hereafter the 5°S FZ) offsets the ridge left-laterally by 80 km. Just south of the transform and to the west of the median valley, the inside corner (IC - the region bounded by the ridge and the active transform) is marked by a major massif, characterized by a corrugated upper surface. Fossil IC massifs can also be identified further to the west. Unusually, a massif almost as high as the IC massif also characterizes the outside corner (OC) south of the inactive fracture zone and to the east of the median valley. This OC massif has axis-parallel dimensions identical to the IC massif and both are bounded on their sides closest to the spreading axis by abrupt, steep slopes. An axial volcanic ridge is well developed in the median valley both south of the IC/OC massifs and in an abandoned rift valley to the east of the OC massif, but is absent along the new ridge-axis segment between the IC and OC massifs. Wide-angle seismic data show that between the massifs, the crust of the median valley thins markedly towards the FZ. These observations are consistent with the formation of the OC massif by the rifting of an IC core complex and the development of a new spreading centre between the IC and OC massifs. The split IC massif presents an opportunity to study the internal structure of the footwall of a detachment fault, from the corrugated fault surface to deeper beneath the fault, without recourse to drilling. Preliminary dredging recovered gabbros from the scarp slope of the rifted IC massif, and serpentinites and gabbros from the intersection of this scarp with the corrugated surface. This is compatible with a concentration of serpentinites along the detachment surface, even where the massif internally is largely plutonic in nature. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)255-269
    Number of pages14
    JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
    Issue number3-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


    • Bathymetry
    • Detachment faults
    • Fracture zones
    • Segmentation
    • Spreading centers
    • Transform faults


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