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  • 1
    Publication Date: 2020-02-06
    Description: The relationships between tectonic processes, magmatism, and hydrothermal venting along ∼600 km of the slow-spreading Mariana back-arc between 12.7°N and 18.3°N reveal a number of similarities and differences compared to slow-spreading mid-ocean ridges. Analysis of the volcanic geomorphology and structure highlights the complexity of the back-arc spreading center. Here, ridge segmentation is controlled by large-scale basement structures that appear to predate back-arc rifting. These structures also control the orientation of the chains of cross-arc volcanoes that characterize this region. Segment-scale faulting is oriented perpendicular to the spreading direction, allowing precise spreading directions to be determined. Four morphologically distinct segment types are identified: dominantly magmatic segments (Type I); magmatic segments currently undergoing tectonic extension (Type II); dominantly tectonic segments (Type III); and tectonic segments currently undergoing magmatic extension (Type IV). Variations in axial morphology (including eruption styles, neovolcanic eruption volumes, and faulting) reflect magma supply, which is locally enhanced by cross-arc volcanism associated with N-S compression along the 16.5°N and 17.0°N segments. In contrast, cross-arc seismicity is associated with N-S extension and increased faulting along the 14.5°N segment, with structures that are interpreted to be oceanic core complexes—the first with high-resolution bathymetry described in an active back-arc basin. Hydrothermal venting associated with recent magmatism has been discovered along all segment types.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
    Format: text
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2020-02-06
    Description: Back-arc spreading centers (BASCs) form a distinct class of ocean spreading ridges distinguished by steep along-axis gradients in spreading rate and by additional magma supplied through subduction. These characteristics can affect the population and distribution of hydrothermal activity on BASCs compared to mid-ocean ridges (MORs). To investigate this hypothesis, we comprehensively explored 600 km of the southern half of the Mariana BASC. We used water column mapping and seafloor imaging to identify 19 active vent sites, an increase of 13 over the current listing in the InterRidge Database (IRDB), on the bathymetric highs of 7 of the 11 segments. We identified both high and low (i.e., characterized by a weak or negligible particle plume) temperature discharge occurring on segment types spanning dominantly magmatic to dominantly tectonic. Active sites are concentrated on the two southernmost segments, where distance to the adjacent arc is shortest (〈40 km), spreading rate is highest (〉48 mm/yr), and tectonic extension is pervasive. Re-examination of hydrothermal data from other BASCs supports the generalization that hydrothermal site density increases on segments 〈90 km from an adjacent arc. Although exploration quality varies greatly among BASCs, present data suggest that, for a given spreading rate, the mean spatial density of hydrothermal activity varies little between MORs and BASCs. The present global database, however, may be misleading. On both BASCs and MORs, the spatial density of hydrothermal sites mapped by high-quality water-column surveys is 2–7 times greater than predicted by the existing IRDB trend of site density versus spreading rate.
    Type: Article , PeerReviewed
    Format: text
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