In regions of the oceans where detachment faulting is developed widely, individual core complex domes (elevated massifs capped by corrugated detachment surfaces) show a consistent morphology. At their outward sides, most core complex domes are attached to a planar slope, interpreted (Smith et al., 2006) as an originally steep inward-facing normal fault that has been rotated to shallower angles. We suggest that the break in slope where the originally steep normal fault meets the domal corrugated surface marks the trace of the brittle-ductile transition at the base of the original normal fault. The steep faults originate within a short distance of the spreading axis. This means that the arcuate shape of the intersection of the steep fault with the dome must indicate the shape of the brittle-ductile transition very close to the spreading axis. The transition must be very shallow close to the summit of the dome and deeper on each flank. Evidence from drilling of some core complexes (McCaig et al, 2007) shows that while the domal detachment faults are active they may channel hydrothermal flow at black smoker temperatures and may be simultaneously injected by magma from below. This indicates a close link between igneous activity, hydrothermal flow and deformation while a core complex is forming. Once the shape of the core complex dome is established, it persists as the ductile footwall mantle rising from below is shaped by the overlying brittle hanging wall that has been cooled by the hydrothermal circulation. The corrugations in the footwall must be moulded into it by irregularities in the brittle hanging wall, as suggested by Spencer (1999). The along-axis arched shape of the hanging wall helps to stabilise the domal shape of the footwall as it rises and cools.
AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts
- Pub Date:
- December 2007
- 3035 Midocean ridge processes;
- 3045 Seafloor morphology;
- and geophysics;
- 3075 Submarine tectonics and volcanism