Near-bottom magnetic survey of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge axis, 24°-24°40?N: Implications for crustal accretion at slow spreading ridges Academic Article uri icon


  • Near-bottom magnetic field measurements provide increased spatial resolution over sea surface magnetic data and allow a detailed analysis of the accretionary and tectonic processes at work in a slow spreading environment. Through the use of magnetic inversion methods and forward modeling, we investigate the fine-scale magnetic structure of young oceanic crust along four near-bottom profiles that cross the two bathymetric segments immediately north of the Kane transform on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Our results show the presence of a narrow, peaked central anomaly magnetic high (CAMH) located over the zone of most recent volcanism. We hypothesize that the pattern of high magnetization at segment ends and relatively low values at their centers is largely the result of increased iron and titanium content away from segment centers. Magnetization lows, which are not observed in the sea surface data, flank the CAMH and are associated with the axial valley walls. These lows may locate areas of intense magnetic source layer disruption. Blocks of relatively high magnetization found outside the valley walls suggest a cyclic faulting process, whereby discrete blocks of relatively unaltered crust are transported out of the rift valley by adjacent zones of faulting. These observations of fine-scale magnetic structure show that while the emplacement of crust at slow spreading ridges is highly focused, subsequent tectonic disruption and alteration at the rift valley walls degrades the crustal magnetization signal and may be the primary reason for Atlantic magnetic anomaly variability.

publication date

  • October 10, 1996