Display Settings:


Send to:

Choose Destination
Nature. 2006 Jul 27;442(7101):440-3.

Widespread active detachment faulting and core complex formation near 13 degrees N on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Author information

  • 1Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA. dsmith@whoi.edu


Oceanic core complexes are massifs in which lower-crustal and upper-mantle rocks are exposed at the sea floor. They form at mid-ocean ridges through slip on detachment faults rooted below the spreading axis. To date, most studies of core complexes have been based on isolated inactive massifs that have spread away from ridge axes. Here we present a survey of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge near 13 degrees N containing a segment in which a number of linked detachment faults extend for 75 km along one flank of the spreading axis. The detachment faults are apparently all currently active and at various stages of development. A field of extinct core complexes extends away from the axis for at least 100 km. Our observations reveal the topographic characteristics of actively forming core complexes and their evolution from initiation within the axial valley floor to maturity and eventual inactivity. Within the surrounding region there is a strong correlation between detachment fault morphology at the ridge axis and high rates of hydroacoustically recorded earthquake seismicity. Preliminary examination of seismicity and seafloor morphology farther north along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge suggests that active detachment faulting is occurring in many segments and that detachment faulting is more important in the generation of ocean crust at this slow-spreading ridge than previously suspected.

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Nature Publishing Group
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk