• Open Access

Three-dimensional seismic structure of a Mid-Atlantic Ridge segment characterized by active detachment faulting (Trans-Atlantic Geotraverse, 25°55′N-26°20′N)



[1] We use air gun shots recorded by ocean bottom seismometers (OBSs) to generate a three-dimensional (3D)P-wave tomographic velocity model of the Trans-Atlantic Geotraverse (TAG) segment of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and to search for evidence of reflections from a shallow crustal fault interface. Near-vertical reflections were observed in some of the seismic records from OBSs deployed within the active seismicity zone defined by microearthquake hypocenters. Forward modeling of synthetic seismograms indicates that these reflections are consistent with a fault interface dipping at a low angle toward the ridge axis. Our observations suggest that the fault zone may extend beneath the volcanic blocks forming the eastern valley wall. Our 3D tomographic results show that the across-axis structural asymmetry associated with detachment faulting extends at least 15 km to the east of the ridge axis, indicating that detachment faulting and uplifting of deep lithologies has been occurring at the TAG segment for at least the last ∼1.35 Myr. The velocity model contains a 5 km by 8 km velocity anomaly within the detachment footwall. This anomaly, which is present beneath the active TAG hydrothermal mound, is characterized by a velocity inversion at 1.5–2.0 km below seafloor underlain by reducedP-wave velocities (∼6.2–6.5 km/s compared to surrounding areas ∼7.0–7.2 km/s) extending down to 3.5 km below seafloor. The velocity anomaly likely results from some combination of thermal and/or hydrothermal processes, and in either case our results suggest that hydrothermal fluids circulate within the upper section of the detachment footwall beneath the active mound.