Author Keywords

Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Magma Flow, Tectonic Fabric, Lithostatic Pressure, Bathymetry, Mid-Ocean Ridge, Divergent Margins


Fracture patterns of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) provide evidence of tectonic forces related to divergence and magma upwelling at the ridge axis. In this study, we focus on the MAR from 0 to 30° N, where the N-S ridge exhibits slow spreading rates (2-4 cm/yr) and pronounced axial topography. Ridge segments and transform faults identified in bathymetry data were analyzed for strike orientation and axial depth profiles. Azimuths of transform faults and ridge segments exhibit increasing clockwise rotation with latitude, and all have left lateral displacement. Bathymetric sampling along ridge segments occurred at 9 km intervals with 20 km sampling radii, producing axial lithostatic pressure gradients. One-dimensional magma flows parallel to the ridge axis at 10 and 50 km depths were modeled using Darcy’s law based on published parameters and calculated gradients. Subaxial magma velocities of up to 4 cm/yr were predicted for horizontal flow at depth and are comparable in magnitude to upwelling rates in published literature. Average flow magnitudes (n = 422) within the melt generation region are predicted at 0.8 and 0.2 cm/yr for 10 and 50 km depths respectively. Flow velocities up to five times higher are expected with this model in the high-porosity boundary layer below the solidus. The Coriolis parameter would affect the movement of the flows predicted by our model and may be linked to rotational patterns observed at the MAR. Future research of magma migration below divergent margins would benefit from incorporating axial lithostatic load variations as a driver of flow.



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