Genovesa Submarine Ridge: A manifestation of plume-ridge interaction in the northern Galápagos Islands Academic Article uri icon


  • [1] Despite its circular coastline and calderas, Genovesa Island, located between the central Galapagos Platform and the Galapagos Spreading Center, is crosscut by both eruptive and noneruptive fissures trending NE-SW. The 075degrees bearing of the fissures parallels that of Genovesa Ridge, a 55 km long volcanic rift zone that is the most prominent submarine rift in the Galapagos and constitutes the majority of the volume of the Genovesa magmatic complex. Genovesa Ridge was the focus of detailed multibeam and side-scan sonar surveys during the Revelle/Drift04 cruise in 2001. The ridge consists of three left stepping en echelon segments; the abundances of lava flows, volcanic terraces, and eruptive cones are all consistent with constructive volcanic processes. The nonlinear arrangement of eruptive vents and the ridge’s en echelon structure indicate that it did not form over a single dike. Major and trace element compositions of Genovesa Ridge glasses are modeled by fractional crystallization along the same liquid line of descent as the island lavas, but some of the glasses exhibit higher Mg # than material sampled from the island. Most of the submarine and the subaerial lavas have accumulated plagioclase. Incompatible trace element abundances of dredged Genovesa Ridge rocks are lower than the island’s lavas, but ratios of the elements are similar in the two settings, which suggests that the island and ridge lavas are derived from nearly identical mantle sources. Glass inclusions in plagioclase phenocrysts from the ridge are compositionally diverse, with both higher and lower MgO than the matrix glass, indicative of homogenization at shallow levels. The structural and geochemical observations are best reconciled if Genovesa Ridge did not form in response to injection of magma laterally from a hot spot-supplied central volcano, like Kilauea’s Puna Ridge. Instead, Genovesa Ridge and its western extension are the result of passive upwelling directed by far-field tectonic stresses that are generated by tension across the 91degreesW transform. The proximity of the plume causes magmatism in the extensional zones where it would not ordinarily occur.

publication date

  • September 2003