, Volume 25, Issue 3-4, pp 305-319

The Agulhas Ridge, South Atlantic: The Peculiar Structure of a Fracture Zone

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Abstract

The Agulhas Ridge is a prominent topographic feature that parallels the Agulhas-Falkland Fracture Zone (AFFZ). Seismic reflection and wide angle/refraction data have led to the classification of this feature as a transverse ridge. Changes in spreading rate and direction associated with ridge jumps, combined with asymmetric spreading within the Agulhas Basin, modified the stress field across the fracture zone. Moreover, passing the Agulhas Ridge’s location between 80 and 69 Ma, the Bouvet and Shona Hotspots may have supplied excess material to this part of the AFFZ thus altering the ridge’s structure. The low crustal velocities and overthickened crust of the northern Agulhas Ridge segment indicate a possible continental affinity that suggests it may be formed by a small continental sliver, which was severed off the Maurice Ewing Bank during the opening of the South Atlantic. In early Oligocene times the Agulhas Ridge was tectono-magmatically reactivated, as documented by the presence of basement highs disturbing and disrupting the sedimentary column in the Cape Basin. We consider the Discovery Hotspot, which distributes plume material southwards across the AAFZ, as a source for the magmatic material.