Preeruptive flow focussing in dikes feeding historical pillow ridges on the Juan de Fuca and Gorda Ridges



[1] Linear, hummocky pillow mound volcanism dominates at slow and intermediate spreading rate mid-ocean ridges. Volcanic hummocks are thought to be formed by low effusion rates or as a result of flow focussing during effusive fissure style eruptions in which the initial dike intercepts the seafloor and erupts along its entire length. In this study, high-resolution autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) bathymetry is used to accurately map the extents of four historical fissure eruptions of the Juan de Fuca and Gorda ridges: on the North Gorda, North Cleft, and CoAxial ridge segments. The four mapped eruptions take the form of pillow mounds, which are similar in both lithology and dimension to hummocks on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Pillow mounds may be isolated, or coalesce to form composite mounds, aligned as ridges or as clustered groups. In three of the four mapped sites, the eruptions were discontinuous along their lengths, with pillow mounds and composite mounds commonly separated by areas of older seafloor. This style of discontinuous eruption is inconsistent with typical en echelon fissure eruptions and is probably due to a mildly overpressured, fingering dike intersecting the seafloor along parts of its length.