Lateral continuity of basement seismic reflections in 15 Ma ultrafast-spreading crust at ODP Site 1256


The Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) initiated drilling at Site 1256D in the Guatemala Basin, about 1,000 km off the East Pacific Rise to penetrate plutonic rocks, anticipated to be relatively shallow in this region, formed at an ultra-fast spreading rate. IODP Expedition E312 successfully drilled into gabbros at ~1,150 m in basement. Multi-channel seismic traces show weak laterally coherent sub-basement reflections at borehole depths. Synthetic reflectivity seismograms were computed using a Ricker wavelet and impedance profiles from borehole sonic logs. These seismograms show significant sub-basement amplitude peaks. A zero-offset vertical seismic profile, shot on E312, was processed to investigate the authenticity of these reflections and their relationship to borehole geology. A dual scheme of the median filtering and F–K dip filtering was used. Tests with synthetic seismograms indicate the approach is effective at reasonable SNR levels. Downgoing energy is clearly identified but negligible upgoing energy is visible over random noise. These results indicate that lava flows and igneous contacts in upper ocean crust have significant topography on lateral scales less than the Fresnel Zone (~300 m) due to igneous and tectonic processes.

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We are extremely grateful to Dr. Ralph A. Stephen for spending hours of time discussing the various theories and research advancements in fields of my interest, eventually helping me choose this topic, Dr. J.A. Collins, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for allowing us to use his synthetic seismogram reflectivity code and to the unknown reviewers who helped us significantly improve the quality of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Sreeja Nag.

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Nag, S., Swift, S.A. Lateral continuity of basement seismic reflections in 15 Ma ultrafast-spreading crust at ODP Site 1256. Mar Geophys Res 32, 429–439 (2011).

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  • East pacific rise
  • Vertical seismic profiling