Our understanding of the spatial-temporal-compositional relationships between off-axis magmatism and mid-ocean ridge spreading centers is limited. Determining the 40Ar/39Ar ages of mid-ocean ridge basalt (MORB) lavas erupting near mid-ocean ridges (MOR) has been a challenge due to the characteristically low K2O contents in incompatible element-depleted normal MORB (NMORB). High-precision 40Ar/39Ar geochronology is used here to determine ages of young, basaltic lavas erupted along the 8°20' N seamount chain west of the East Pacific Rise (EPR) axis that have a range of incompatible element enrichments (EMORB) suitable for 40Ar/39Ar geochronology (e.g., K2O contents > 0.3 wt%). 40Ar/39Ar ages were determined in 29 well-characterized basalts sampled using HOV Alvin and dredging. Detailed geochronology and geochemical analyses provide important constraints on the timing, distribution, and origins of lavas that constructed this extensive volcanic lineament relative to magmatism beneath the adjacent EPR axis. Seamount eruption ages are up to ∼1.6 Ma younger than the underlying lithosphere, supporting a model of prolonged off-axis magmatism for at least 2 Myrs at distances as great as ∼90 km from the ridge axis. Increasing geochemical heterogeneity with eruption distance reflects the diminishing effect of sub-ridge melt focusing. The range of geochemically distinct lavas erupted at given distances from the ridge highlights the dynamic nature of the near-ridge magmatic environment over Myr timescales. Linear ridge-like (EPR-parallel) morphotectonic features erupt the youngest and most incompatible element-enriched lavas of the entire seamount chain, indicating there is a recent change in the influence of mantle heterogeneity and off-axis melt metasomatism on the near-ridge lithospheric mantle. Changes in seamount morphologies are attributed to counter-clockwise rotation and southward migration of the nearby Siqueiros transform over the last few million years.
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Anderson, Molly K.; Perfit, Michael R.; Morgan, Leah E.; Fornari, Daniel J.; Cosca, Michael; and Wanless, V. Dorsey. (2023). "Constraints on Near-Ridge Magmatism Using 40Ar/39Ar Geochronology of Enriched MORB from the 8°20' N Seamount Chain". Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 618, 118278. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2023.118278