Contrasting crustal production and rapid mantle transitions beneath back-arc ridges

TitleContrasting crustal production and rapid mantle transitions beneath back-arc ridges
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsDunn, RA, Martinez, F

The Eastern Lau spreading centre, located on the Lau back-arc basin hydrothermal vent system between Fiji and Tonga, is a focus site of the Ridge 2000 research programme of the US National Science Foundation. The first large-scale seismic study of the area reveals large and abrupt across- and along-strike changes in crustal properties, implying correspondingly large discontinuities in the nature of the mantle supplying melt to the ridge axes. The authors conclude that stable, broad triangular upwelling regions, as inferred for mid-ocean ridges, cannot form near the mantle wedge corner. Instead, the observations imply a dynamic process in which the ridge upwelling zone preferentially captures water-rich low-viscosity mantle when it is near the arc. As the ridge moves away from the arc, a tipping point is reached at which the material is rapidly released, resulting in rapid changes in the character of the crust formed at the ridge.


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