Lower crustal variability and the crust/mantle transition at the Atlantis Massif oceanic core complex



[1] Seismic refraction data provide new constraints on the structure of the lower oceanic crust and its variability across the Atlantis Massif oceanic core complex, ∼30°N on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. A 40 km-long spreading-parallel profile constrains P-wave velocities to depths of up to ∼7 km beneath the seafloor. Two shorter spreading-perpendicular lines provide coverage to ∼2 km depth. The anomalous character of the massif's central dome crust is clear compared to the neighboring rift valley and similar-age crust on the opposite ridge flank. The domal core of the massif, unroofed via detachment faulting, has velocities >7.0 km/s at depths below ∼2.5 km sub-seafloor, increasing to 7.5–7.8 km/s over the depth range 4.8–6.8 km. Within the core complex, the Moho does not appear to be sharp as no PmP arrivals are observed. Within the axial valley, velocities do not reach mantle-transition zone values in the uppermost 6 km. We infer that crust there is of normal thickness but that a thinner than average mafic section is present in the central massif. Near IODP Hole U1309D, located on the central dome, there is a low velocity gradient interval at 1–3 km depth with velocities of 6.6–6.8 km/s, that coincides with a 3–5 km wide region where shallower velocities are highest. Given the predominantly gabbroic section recovered from the 1.4 km deep drillhole, this seismic structure suggests that the mafic body extends a few km both laterally and vertically.