Spatial and temporal distribution of seismicity along the northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge (15 degrees-35 degrees N)

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Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth
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Mar 25
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[1] A detailed investigation of the relationship between the spatial and temporal patterns of the seismic activity recorded by six autonomous hydrophones and the structure of the northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge between 15degrees and 35degreesN is presented. Two years of monitoring yielded a total of 3485 hydroacoustically detected events within the array recorded by four or more hydrophones. The seismically active zone extends similar to20 km to either side of the ridge axis, consistent with earlier results from studies of fault morphology. Along the axis, hydrophone-recorded activity shows important variations. Areas with intense and persistent seismic activity (stripes) stand in sharp contrast to areas that lack seismicity (gaps). The regions of persistent activity are a new observation at mid-ocean ridges. In general, the patterns of seismically active/inactive regions are also recognized in the 28-year teleseismic record, implying that these patterns are maintained at timescales between a few years and a few decades. We find no simple relationship between individual segment variables (e.g., length or trend of the segment, maximum offset of discontinuities, or along-axis change in mantle Bouguer anomaly (MBA) and water depths) and number of hydrophone-recorded events. There does appear to be a correlation between axial thermal structure and seismicity. Regions of low and high numbers of events would thus correspond to thinner (hotter) and thicker (colder) lithosphere, respectively. Seismicity may reflect thermal structure at short timescales (decadal or longer), while relief and inferred crustal thickness may integrate this structure over longer periods of time (order of 1 Myr).


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Doi 10.1029/2002jb001964