Thermal models of oceanic crustal accretion: Linking geophysical, geological and petrological observations

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Abstract

[1] Models of oceanic crustal accretion should be able to reproduce both petrological and geological observations from ophiolites and geophysical observations from active spreading ridges. We have developed thermal models of crustal accretion at fast spreading ridges that incorporate petrological variation and allow for a variable vertical distribution of crystallization. Including petrological variation has a major effect on the distribution of melt within the crust and the consequent interpretation of model results in terms of geophysical observables. In particular, the narrow melt lens imaged by seismic reflection surveys can be produced by the presence of large-scale compositional stratification within the crust, such as that observed in the Oman ophiolite. Controlling the vertical distribution of crystallization allows a range of crustal accretion mechanisms to be tested, including the many sills and gabbro glacier models. Both gabbro glacier and many sills models can broadly match the geophysical observations, but the preferred model is a hybrid, where the uppermost 25% or more of the lower crust forms in a gabbro glacier and the lowermost 25% or more of the lower crust forms by crystallization in situ. The success of all models is dependent on the strength and distribution of hydrothermal cooling.

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