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Near-axis seamounts provide a unique setting to investigate three-dimensional mantle processes associated with the formation of new oceanic crust and lithosphere. Here, we investigate the characteristics and evolution of the 8˚20’N Seamount Chain, a lineament of seamounts that extends ~ 175 km west of the East Pacific Rise (EPR) axis, just north of the fracture zone of the Siqueiros Transform Fault. Shipboard gravity, magnetic, and bathymetric data acquired in 2016 are utilized to constrain models of seamount emplacement and evolution. Geophysical observations indicate that these seamounts formed during four distinct episodes of volcanism coinciding with changes in regional plate motion that are also reflected in the development of intra-transform spreading centers (ITSCs) along the Siqueiros transform fault (Fornari et al. 1989; Pockalny et al. 1997). Although volcanism is divided into distinct segments, the magnetic data indicate continuous volcanic construction over long portions of the chain. Crustal thickness variations along the chain up to 0.75 km increase eastward, inferred from gravity measurements, suggest that plate reorganization has considerably impacted melt distribution in the area surrounding the Siqueiros-EPR ridge transform intersection. This appears to have resulted in increased volcanism and the formation of the 8˚20’N Seamounts. These findings indicate that melting processes in the mantle and subsequently the formation of new oceanic crust and lithosphere are highly sensitive to tectonic stress changes in the vicinity of fast-spreading transform fault offsets.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.