Crustal thickness variations along the Southeast Indian Ridge (100°–116°E) from 2-D body wave tomography

TitleCrustal thickness variations along the Southeast Indian Ridge (100°–116°E) from 2-D body wave tomography
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2008
AuthorsR. Holmes, C, Tolstoy, M, Cochran, JR, Floyd, JS
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Keywordscrustal structure, mid-ocean ridge, oceanic crust, seismic refraction, seismic tomography, Southeast Indian Ridge

Axial morphology along the Southeast Indian Ridge (SEIR) systematically changes from an axial high to a deep rift valley at a nearly uniform intermediate spreading rate between 100°–116°E, west of the Australian-Antarctic Discordance (AAD). Basalt geochemistry has a consistent Indian–mid-ocean ridge basalt (MORB) type isotopic signature, so changes in axial topography are attributed to variations in both mantle temperature and melt supply. Wide-angle seismic refraction lines were shot to four ocean bottom hydrophones within SEIR segments P1, P2, S1, and T, where each segment is characterized by a different morphology. We constructed 2-D crustal velocity models by jointly inverting hand-picked P wave refraction (Pg) and Moho reflection (PmP) traveltime data using a top-down, minimum-structure methodology. The results show a 1.5 km eastward decrease in crustal thickness across the study area, with segment averages ranging from 6.1 km at P1 to 4.6 km at T. Melt generation models require a ∼30°C decrease in mantle temperature toward the AAD to account for the crustal thickness trend. Significant changes in axial morphology accompany small-scale variations in crustal thickness, consistent with models of crustal accretion where ridge topography is determined by a balance between mantle temperature, melt supply, and cooling from hydrothermal circulation. Layer 3 thins by 3.0 km as layer 2 thickens by 1.4 km between segments P1 and T, reflecting the eastward decrease in melt supply and increase in melt lens depth. The trade-off in seismic layers may be explained by models relating the increase in overburden pressure on a deepening melt lens to the volume of magma erupted into the upper crust rather than cooling at depth to form new lower crustal material.


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