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the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

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Author Topic: the Mid-Atlantic Ridge  (Read 22287 times)
Carolyn Silver
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« Reply #150 on: September 27, 2009, 04:57:53 am »

Mid-Ocean Ridge Tectonics

Project Goals:


    * Understand the kinematics and dynamics of extensional faulting during sea floor spreading
    * Determine how extensional faults accommodate sea floor spreading in the absence of magmatic activity
    * Understand strain localization mechanisms in mafic and ultramafic oceanic lithosphere
    * Understand how extensional faulting is linked to fluid circulation in oceanic lithosphere
    * Refine the theory of Plate Tectonics to explain newly observed geologic features on the sea floor

Overview:

    Formation of new oceanic lithosphere at mid-ocean ridges is accomplished by a combination of magmatic activity and extensional faulting. Recent advances in sea floor sonar imaging and geophysical techniques has allowed scientists to determine the shape and internal structure of the ocean floor better than ever before. These studies have revealed morphologic and geologic structures at mid-ocean ridges that cannot be explained by the classical model of sea floor spreading. Like any good scientific theory, plate tectonics is currently being modified to incorporate these new observations. In particular, extensional faults at mid-ocean ridges may be far more complex than previously thought, and may actually the the sole mechanism to accommodate spreading during periods of little or no magma input to the shallow ridge axis, asymmetrical spreading, or during ridge migration. In short: if you want to understand plate tectonics, you have to spend at least part of the time looking beneath the oceans.

    I am studying faults at two sites along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge to meet these above goals, and make sure the theory of plate tectonics accurately explains the actual mechanics of our planet. Thus far, I have participated in two research cruises where we have used submersibles to map the sea floor and collect rock samples and a drill ship to collect core samples of oceanic lithosphere.

 
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