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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences

Profile

Publication details for Prof Roger Clive Searle

Neves, M.C., Bott, M.H.P. & Searle, R.C. (2004). Patterns of stress at midocean ridges and their offsets due to seafloor subsidence. Tectonophysics 386(3-4): 223-242.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

The effect of the seafloor subsidence on the horizontal stress field of young oceanic lithosphere is investigated by combining the finite element method with a formulation that allows us to compute the two-dimensional horizontal stresses arising from isostatically compensated vertical loads. We find that the topographic load created by the elevation of mid-ocean ridges relative to old ocean floor is a significant source of ridge-parallel tensile stresses. These may predominate over the ridge-perpendicular stresses and explain observations at mid-ocean ridge offsets such as (1) oblique normal faulting at ridge-transform intersections trending up to 60º relative to the ridge axis, and (2) non-transform offsets consisting of extensional basins oriented at 45º relative to the ridge trend. At mid-ocean ridge overlaps, rotation of the ridge-parallel tensile stresses favours rift propagation at more than 45º relative to the ridge trend. It is suggested that propagating rift tips that bend abruptly lead to partially unlocked offsets, and as a result large overlaps may eventually start to rotate and evolve into a microplate.

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