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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Publication details for Prof Roger Clive Searle

Radhakrishna, M., & Searle, R.C. (2006). Isostatic response of the Alula-Fartak and Owen transforms in the Eastern Gulf of Aden and the adjoining Arabian Sea. Geophysical Journal International 165: 62-72.

Author(s) from Durham


The Alula Fartak and Owen transforms are the active parts of major fracture zones with a distinct topographic expression in the Eastern Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea respectively. While the Alula-Fartak transform offsets the Sheba Ridge by about 180 km and is associated with a broad steep sided valley with a relief of nearly 3.5 km, the Owen transform offsets the Carlsberg Ridge by nearly 300 km and is associated with a broad step-like valley surrounded by deeper water depths. The gravity and topography data along several profiles selected across these two transforms have been analysed using cross-spectral analysis in order to investigate their isostatic compensation. The observed admittance estimates have been compared with three theoretical isostatic compensation models, two local compensation models (Airy I and II) and one regional compensation (plate) model.
Comparing the longer wavelength admittance estimates suggests that the regional compensation model gives the best fit for both the Alula-Fartak transform and the Owen Transform, with effective elastic thickness (Te) of 5 km and slightly less than 10 km, respectively. For the Alula Fartak transform, the Airy II model might also be acceptable, though with large scatter in the observed values: it suggests a mean value of 9 km for the mantle layer with a 6 km thick crust. For the Owen transform, on the other hand, the two local compensation models failed. The difference in Te estimate between the two transforms could be ascribed to differences in thermal structure arising from their varied tectonic history. A comparison with the isostatic response estimates of transform / fracture zones along the slow-spreading Mid-Atlantic Ridge suggests that the regional compensation model is generally applicable for transform / fracture zone topography along such mid-ocean ridges.