Mid-Ocean Ridges

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Related to Mid-Ocean Ridges: sea-floor spreading

Mid-Ocean Ridges


major relief features on the floor of the world ocean, forming a single system of mountain structures more than 60,000 km long. The ridges have relative altitudes of 2,000–3,000 m and a width of 250–450 km, although in some places the width reaches 1,000 km. Morphologically, the ridges represent linear uplifts of the earth’s crust with very rugged crests and slopes. Whereas in the Pacific and Arctic oceans the ridge is located in the marginal parts of the ocean, in the Atlantic it passes through the middle.

Rifts, which form as a result of the pulling apart of the earth’s crust, occur in the axial zone of the mid-ocean ridges. In addition to faults oriented along the mid-ocean ridges, there are also transverse faults, which often extend into neighboring parts of the ocean bed. The basalts that make up the earth’s oceanic crust and such ultrabasic rocks as harzburgites, dunites, and serpentin-ites are exposed in the rifts and transverse fault zones. Substantial seismicity and an increase in the heat flow from the earth’s interior are associated with the faults; volcanic activity also occurs in places. With respect to the composition of the products of eruption, the volcanoes of the mid-ocean ridges and those of the ocean floor are similar and differ sharply from the volcanoes of the transitional zones (modern geosynclinal regions) in that there is an absence of acidic and andesitic lavas and tuffs.

The volcanic islands located in the axial zone of the mid-ocean ridges, and sometimes on their slopes, are the peaks of the largest underwater volcanoes. Most of the volcanoes are inactive, although there are active volcanoes in the Azores, in the Tristan da Cunha Islands, and elsewhere. The largest underwater volcanoes, as well as the epicenters of earthquakes, are associated with the places where the transverse faults cross the axial zone.

The transverse faults divide the mid-ocean ridges into segments that are usually displaced horizontally by up to 500–600 km relative to one another. In the new global tectonics great importance is ascribed to these horizontal movements. The mid-ocean ridges are considered to be zones where oceanic crust is being formed from material rising to the rift zones out of the mantle and spreading laterally. According to other theories, the mid-ocean ridges are folded structures, and their Neogene-Anthropo-gene phase of development is a counterpart to the orogenic phase of the continental folded systems, marked by uplifts and a pulling apart of the earth’s crust (A. V. Peive, 1975). Some scientists believe that the formation of the mid-ocean ridges is associated with the pulling apart and bulging of the crust, caused by the flow of abyssal material from the mantle, and with the accompanying phenomena of serpentinization.


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References in periodicals archive ?
Rocks at ultraslow-spreading mid-ocean ridges such as the Mid-Cayman are often composed of minerals that are typically found deep in the ocean crust but that would have been more common at the seafloor when Earth was newly formed.
2008), the accumulated data demonstrate the high degree of geochemical heterogeneity, and the small scale of this heterogeneity, in mid-ocean ridges and seamounts off Canada's west coast.
At most mid-ocean ridges, scientists believe that hot rock rises passively to fill the gap created by the separation--or spreading--of the plates.
It has often been presumed that life developed near to hydrothermal sources known as black smokers(1), such as those found at the bottom of the oceans along mid-ocean ridges.
Washington, March 29 (ANI): Researchers at McGill University have discovered high concentrations of CO2 at mid-ocean ridges, confirming the explosive nature of certain volcanic eruptions.
Are they produced in large ocean basins at mid-ocean ridges or in more confined settings like forearcs, arcs or back-arc basins close to continental margins?
Kleinrock of the Department of Geology and Geophysics, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, analyzed waves from 27 large earthquakes along Pacific mid-ocean ridges.
Geologists have studied this place, at 22 degrees north of the equator, since the 1970s for what it can reveal about the processes that form young crust at mid-ocean ridges.
Chemoautotrophic microbes (bacteria and archaea) have been found in deep-ocean sediments and at hydrothermal vents, where hot water flows out through newly formed volcanic rock at mid-ocean ridges.
Ocean-floor basalts are extruded along mid-ocean ridges that define divergent boundaries, whereas island-arcs are produced as the ocean floor is subducted at convergent plate boundaries.
Similar volcanic plumbing has been observed beneath mid-ocean ridges.