• tomography;
  • ridge processes;
  • crustal accretion;
  • seismic inversion


The isotropic and anisotropic P wave velocity structure of the upper oceanic crust on the Endeavour segment of the Juan de Fuca Ridge is studied using refracted traveltime data collected by an active-source, three-dimensional tomography experiment. The isotropic velocity structure is characterized by low crustal velocities in the overlapping spreading centers (OSCs) at the segment ends. These low velocities are indicative of pervasive tectonic fracturing and persist off axis, recording the history of ridge propagation. Near the segment center, velocities within the upper 1 km show ridge-parallel bands with low velocities on the outer flanks of topographic highs. These features are consistent with localized thickening of the volcanic extrusive layer from eruptions extending outside of the axial valley that flow down the fault-tilted blocks that form the abyssal hill topography. On-axis velocities are generally relatively high beneath the hydrothermal vent fields likely due to the infilling of porosity by mineral precipitation. Lower velocities are observed beneath the most vigorous vent fields in a seismically active region above the axial magma chamber and may reflect increased fracturing and higher temperatures. Seismic anisotropy is high on-axis but decreases substantially off axis over 5–10 km (0.2–0.4 Ma). This decrease coincides with an increase in seismic velocities resolved at depths ≥1 km and is attributed to the infilling of cracks by mineral precipitation associated with near-axis hydrothermal circulation. The orientation of the fast-axis of anisotropy is ridge-parallel near the segment center but curves near the segment ends reflecting the tectonic fabric within the OSCs.