Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Images Reveal Different Magma Pools Form the Ocean’s Crust

29.08.2005


For the first time, scientists have produced images of the oceanic crust and found that the upper and lower layers of the crust are likely formed from different magma pools. The images begin to answer some lingering questions about where new ocean crust comes from and whether it is all formed the same way.



Geophysicists Robert Detrick and Juan-Pablo Canales of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and colleagues used reflected seismic, or sound, waves to successfully image the structure of the lower crust across the flanks of the Juan de Fuca Ridge, a spreading plate boundary off the Pacific Northwest coast. Their study, co-authored by researchers at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, appears in the August 25, 2005 issue of Nature.

By recording the reflection of seismic waves off the lower crust at the crust-mantle boundary, a technique common in oil exploration, the researchers found evidence strongly suggesting that the base of the crust forms much differently than its overlying layers.


“Seismic reflection is a powerful tool to image the sub-surface detailed structure of the Earth down to several kilometers or miles below the surface," study co-author Canales said. “Scientists studying the formation of the ocean crust have been debating over the past decade whether all of the crust is formed from magma that accumulates in a single pool or lens a mile or two deep, or if it forms from multiple magma sills at different levels.”

Detrick, Canales and colleagues analyzed about 1,500 kilometers (935 miles) of data collected on the Juan de Fuca Ridge off the coast of Washington, Oregon and northern California. The images are the first of their kind showing solidified magma lenses and sills, narrow lateral intrusions of magma, embedded in the boundary between the mantle and the overlying crust, a region known as the Moho transition zone. The existence of these magma lenses near a mid-ocean ridge suggests that the lower oceanic crust is formed from several smaller sources of magma rather than a single large pool located in the middle of the crust.

Unlike continental crust, which is very old and thick, oceanic crust averages 6-7 kilometers (3-4 miles) thick and is constantly being recycled at tectonic plate boundaries on the seafloor. Crust is destroyed at subduction zones, where plates come together, and created at mid-ocean ridges, where plates are pulling apart, like the Juan de Fuca Ridge. At these ridges, also known as seafloor spreading centers, molten rock, or magma, rises from deep within the earth and solidifies to become new crust. But the exact source of that magma—particularly the magma that forms the lower layers of the crust—was not well understood until now.

Previously, geophysicists knew that the topmost layer of the crust cooled from molten rock supplied by a single pool, or lens, of magma located in the crust’s middle layers. What was not known was whether the lower crust, which lies just above the mantle, solidified from the same melt lens or from many smaller magma bodies in the deeper crust-mantle transition zone. The new study found evidence of multiple pockets of molten rock now frozen, lending strong support to the latter theory.

Geophysical studies along mid-ocean ridges to date using seismic reflection have been able to image only one single crustal melt lens, supporting the first model of crustal formation. However, other remote-sensing geophysical methods that are used to infer the mechanical properties of the crust indicate that magma must also accumulate at deeper levels, in particular at the base of the crust or the Moho transition zone.

The multiple-lens model comes from field observations at ophiolites where the remnants of the multiple melt sills can be mapped. Ophiolites are slabs of oceanic crust long ago thrust up onto dry land and are easily accessible to geologists seeking clues to what new crust might look like.

“It is exciting that different observational approaches, marine seismology and ophiolite studies, that look at the same problem at different spatial and resolution scales are converging towards a unified geological and geophysical model of how the ocean crust is formed," Canales said.

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Shelley Dawicki | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.whoi.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed
21.02.2017 | University of Exeter

nachricht How much biomass grows in the savannah?
16.02.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>