Collier, J.S., Minshull, T.A., Hammond, J.O.S., Whitmarsh, R. B., Kendall, J.-M., Sansom, V., Lane, C.I. and Rumpker, G.
Factors influencing magmatism during continental breakup: New insights from a wide-angle seismic experiment across the conjugate Seychelles-Indian margins.
Journal of Geophysical Research, 114, (B3), . (doi:10.1029/2008JB005898).
We present a model of the northern Seychelles continental margin derived from controlled source, wide-angle seismic traveltime inversion and teleseismic receiver functions. This margin has been widely cited as a classic example of rifting in association with a continental flood basalt province, the Deccan Traps. However, we do not find the typical set of geophysical characteristics reported at other margins linked to continental flood basalts, such as those of the north Atlantic. The oceanic crust formed immediately after breakup and throughout the first 3 Ma of seafloor spreading is just 5.2 km thick, less than half that typically seen at other volcanic margins. The continent-ocean transition zone is narrow and while two packages of seaward-dipping reflectors are imaged within this transition they are weakly developed. Beneath the thinned continental crust there is an approximately 4 km thick layer of high-velocity material (7.5–7.8 km/s) that we interpret as mafic material intruded and underplating the lower crust. However, we believe that this underplating most likely happened prior to the breakup. Overall the observations show that the rifting of India from the Seychelles was characterized by modest magmatism. The spatial extent of the Deccan flood basalt province is therefore smaller than previously thought. We speculate that either the lateral flow of Deccan-related hot material beneath the breakup region was hampered, perhaps as the rifted margins did not intersect the center of the Deccan source, or there was incomplete melt extraction from the wide melting region that formed between the rapidly diverging plates. If the latter explanation is correct, then the rate of plate separation, as indicated by the initial seafloor-spreading rate, is more important in controlling the volume of magmatism generated during continental rifting than has been previously recognized.
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