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Article

Abstract

Combined analyses of volcanic features in DSL-120 sonar data and Argo I images along the ridge crest of the East Pacific Rise, 9_090–540N reveal a consistent decrease in inferred lava effusion rate toward the ends of third-order segments. The correlation of tectonic segmentation and volcanic style suggests that third-order segmentation corresponds to the volcanic segmentation of the ridge. Along-axis changes in volcanic structures (from collapse troughs to basaltic lava domes) and lava morphology (from sheet to pillow flows) coincide with the boundaries of morphologically defined third order tectonic segments of the ridge crest visible in shipboard multibeam bathymetry. Pillow lava flows cover 25% of the surveyed area of the ridge crest and are closely associated with small lava domes that occur primarily at third-order segment ends. An additional 25% of the surveyed area of the ridge crest is covered by sheet lava flows found in close association with an axial collapse trough. The remaining terrain consists of lobate lava flows. We interpret the spatial correlations of morphologic, structural, seismic, and petrologic data as evidence that individual volcanic plumbing systems are organized at _20 km spacing along the ridge axis (third-order segment scale) in agreement with the hypothesis that volcanic and tectonic segmentations are correlated. For fast spreading ridges, we estimate that the longevity of volcanic segments is _104–105 years, 1–3 orders of magnitude longer than fourth-order segments (_102–103 years). This implies the present pattern of hydrothermal activity may reorganize tens or hundreds of times while volcanic segmentation remains fairly stable.

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