K. Okino, K. Matsuda, D. Christie, Y. Nogi and K. Koizumi

Development of oceanic detachment and asymmetric spreading at the Australian-Antarctic Discordance

Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 5(12), Q12012, doi:10.1029/2004GC000793, 2004


The largest known oceanic detachment terrains occur in Segment B3 of the Australian-Antarctic
Discordance (AAD). Using newly collected bathymetry, magnetic, and gravity data, we show that Segment B3 is divided into two contrasting second-order segments. The western subsegment, B3W, is characterized by well-ordered, ridge parallel abyssal hills and low mantle Bouguer gravity anomalies. The eastern subsegment, B3E, displays rough, chaotic morphology and includes several megamullions characterized by high mantle Bouguer gravity anomaly values. The crust is estimated to be thinner by a maximum of 3 km in southern B3E. The combination of chaotic morphology with thinner crust supports the idea that the megamullions are exposed footwalls of oceanic detachments. Megamullion terrains are characterized by higher magnetization than adjacent terrains, most likely as a result of serpentinization of peridotite exposed at the detachment surfaces. Detachment surfaces constitute up to 70% of the total area of both ridge flanks younger than 2 Ma in B3E, indicating that oceanic detachments have played a major role in its development. Spreading in B3E has been extremely asymmetric, with higher apparent rates associated with the large detachment surfaces, where up to 75% of the total extension occurred. Similar asymmetric spreading on oceanic detachments is also recognized in Segment B4, suggesting that this is the dominant mode of extension associated with cold mantle and low magma supply in this deepest part of the AAD, where it is confined to a mere 100-km-long section of the AAD spreading axis.

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