2018 Graduate Student Showcase

Title of Submission

Off-Axis Seamount Lavas at 8°20’ N Span the Entire Range of Northern East Pacific Rise MORB Compositions

Degree Program

Geoscience, MS

Major Advisor Name

Dorsey Wanless

Type of Submission

Scholarly Poster


Lavas erupted at off-axis seamounts can provide a window into mantle heterogeneity and melting systematics that are not easily observed on-axis at fast-spreading mid-ocean ridges (MORs), where melts are efficiently mixed and homogenized within shallow axial magma chambers. To investigate off-axis magmatism, we systematically mapped the 8°20’ N seamount chain in November of 2016 on R/V Atlantis using shipboard EM122 multibeam system and AUV Sentry. This ~160-km long chain of off-axis seamounts and ridges is located perpendicular to the ridge axis, west of the East Pacific Rise (EPR) and north of the Siqueiros Fracture Zone. The high-resolution surface and AUV-based multibeam and AUV sidescan maps are combined with geochemical analyses of ~300 basalt samples, collected using HOV Alvin and dredging, to evaluate magmatic plumbing and sources off-axis. Preliminary major and trace element concentrations reveal remarkable geochemical heterogeneity (including both normal and enriched basalt compositions) across the entire seamount chain and within individual seamounts. For example, (La/Sm)N contents span the entire range of known values for basalts from northern Pacific MORs and seamounts (0.45—2.76). MgO contents vary from 10.25 to 4.56 wt. % across the seamount chain and by as much as 3.61 wt. % from volcanic features sampled at an individual seamount (Beryl). Additionally, K2O/TiO2 ratios range from 4.9 to 61.3 across the seamount chain, and by as much as 54.4 at a single seamount (Beryl), indicating heterogeneous mantle sources or variable extents of melting occur at both regional and local scales. We combine the geochemical results and bathymetric maps with petrologic models to evaluate extents and depths of fractional crystallization and mantle melting in the off-axis environment.

Funding Information

National Science Foundation, Burnham Research Funds

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