Tectonic structure, evolution, and the nature of oceanic core complexes and their detachment fault zones (13°20'N and 13°30'N, Mid-Atlantic Ridge)

Microbathymetry data, in-situ observations, and sampling along the 13°20'N and 13°20'N oceanic core complexes (OCCs) reveal mechanisms of detachment fault denudation at the seafloor, links between tectonic extension and mass wasting, and expose the nature of corrugations, ubiquitous at OCCs. In the initial stages of detachment faulting and high angle fault scarps show extensive mass-wasting that reduces their slope. Flexural rotation further lowers scarp slope, hinders mass wasting, resulting in morphologically complex chaotic terrain between the breakaway and the denuded corrugated surface. Extension and drag along the fault plane uplifts a wedge of hangingwall material (apron). The detachment surface emerges along a continuous moat that sheds rocks and covers it with unconsolidated rubble, while local slumping emplaces rubble ridges overlying corrugations. The detachment fault zone is a set of anostomosed slip planes, elongated in the along-extension direction. Slip planes bind fault rock bodies defining the corrugations observed in microbathymetry and sonar. Fault planes with extension-parallel stria are exposed along corrugation flanks, where the rubble cover is shed. Detachment fault rocks are primarily basalt fault breccia at 13°20‘N OCC, and gabbro and peridotite at 13°30'N, demonstrating that brittle strain localization in shallow lithosphere form corrugations, regardless of lithologies in the detachment zone. Finally, faulting and volcanism dismember the 13°30'N OCC, with widespread present and past hydrothermal activity (Semenov fields), while the Irinovskoe hydrothermal field at the 13°20'N core complex suggests a magmatic source within the footwall. These results confirm the ubiquitous relationship between hydrothermal activity and oceanic detachment formation and evolution.

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Escartin J., Mevel C., Petersen S., Bonnemains D., Cannat M., Andreani M., Augustin N., Bezos A., Chavagnac V., Choi Y., Godard M., Haaga K., Hamelin C., Ildefonse B., Jamieson J., John B., Leleu T., Macleod C. J., Massot-Campos M., Nomikou P., Olive J. A., Paquet M., Rommevaux C., Rothenbeck M., Steinfuhrer A., Tominaga M., Triebe L., Campos R., Gracias N., Garcia R. (2017). Tectonic structure, evolution, and the nature of oceanic core complexes and their detachment fault zones (13°20'N and 13°30'N, Mid-Atlantic Ridge). Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 18 (4). 1451-1482. https://doi.org/10.1002/2016GC006775, https://archimer.ifremer.fr/doc/00376/48702/

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