Garel, E., Lagabrielle, Y. and Pelletier, B.
Abrupt axial variations along the slow to ultra-slow spreading centers of the northern North Fiji Basin (SW Pacific): evidence for short wave heterogeneities in a back-arc mantle.
Marine Geophysical Researches, 24, (3-4), . (doi:10.1007/s11001-004-1060-y).
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This study presents results of surveys conducted along the slow to ultra-slow spreading axis of the Northern North Fiji Basin (NNFB), including the Hazel Holmes, Tripartite and South Pandora Ridges, and the newly discovered Futuna and North Cikobia spreading centers. Spreading segments along these axes display highly contrasted axial morphologies, ranging from a rift valley to a prominent axial high. In some places, abrupt inversions of topography are observed between neighboring segments. Detailed analyses of bathymetry and backscatter maps reveal that axial highs are spotted with numerous coalescent volcanoes forming features ranging from irregular terrains to well-organized ridges. The volcanic edifices are distributed over a wide neovolcanic zone, which corresponds to the axial relief, suggesting on important contribution of volcanism to the relief construction. Comparisons between various ridge-shaped segments reveal that axial volcano-tectonic patterns are directly related to the local magma production and delivery, in a context of tectonic extension related to plate divergence, and suggest that coalescent volcanoes are fed from multiples short-lived and unconnected magma lenses. In the competition between horizontal and vertical accretion of oceanic crust, the spreading centers of the NNFB represent a special case where lava production is locally high enough and spreading rate is low enough to allow prominent axial highs to develop. The along axis morphologic variability is related to intermittent volcanic activity that may result from rapid temporal and spatial variations in the distribution of upper mantle convection cells below accretion centers, superimposed on the regional thermal anomaly located under the whole basin.
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