A submersible study of the western intersection of the Mid-Atlantic ridge and Kane fracture zone (WMARK)
- Cite this article as:
- Tivey, M., Takeuchi, A. & Scientific Party, W. Marine Geophysical Researches (1998) 20: 195. doi:10.1023/A:1004630501837
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In 1994, a joint Japanese-American dive program utilizing the worlds deepest diving active research submersible (SHINKAI 6500) was carried out at the western ridge-transform intersection (RTI) of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and Kane transform in the central North Atlantic Ocean. A total of 15 dives were completed along with surface-ship geophysical mapping of bathymetry, magnetic and gravity fields. Dives at the RTI traced the neovolcanic zone up to, and for a short distance (2.5 km) along, the Kane transform. At the RTI, the active trace of the transform is marked by a narrow valley (<50 m wide) that separates the recent lavas of the neovolcanic zone from the south wall of the transform. The south wall of the transform at the western RTI consists of a diabase section near its base between 5000 and 4600 m depth overlain by basaltic lavas, with no evidence of gabbro or deeper crustal rocks. The south wall is undergoing normal faulting with considerable strike-slip component. The lavas of the neovolcanic zone at the RTI are highly magnetized (17 A m−1) compared to the lavas of the south wall (4 A m−1), consistent with their age difference. The trace of the active transform changes eastwards into a prominent median ridge, which is composed of heavily sedimented and highly serpentinized peridotites. Submersible observations made from SHINKAI find that the western RTI of the Kane transform has a very different seafloor morphology and lithology compared to the eastern RTI. Large rounded massifs exposing lower crustal rocks are found on the inside corner of the eastern RTI whereas volcanic ridge and valley terrain with hooked ridges are found on the outside corner of the eastern RTI. The western RTI is much less asymmetric with both inside and outside corner crust showing a preponderance of volcanic terrain. The dominance of low-angle detachment faulting at the eastern RTI has resulted in a seafloor morphology and architecture that is diagnostic of the process whereas crust formed at the WMARK RTI must clearly be operating under a different set of conditions that suppresses the initiation of such faulting.