Mid-ocean ridges create oceanic lithosphere consisting normally of basaltic crust a few kilometers thick overlying a peridotitic mantle. However, lithosphere free of basaltic crust formed during the past similar to 30 m.y. at an similar to 50-km-long stretch of Mid-Atlantic Ridge south of the Romanche Fracture Zone, giving rise to a > 500-km-long strip of ocean floor exposing mostly mantle peridotites that have undergone an unusually low (less than or equal to5%) degree of melting, mixed with peridotites that reacted with a small fraction of basaltic melt. This lithosphere contains < 10% of scattered gabbroic pockets, representing melt frozen above 25 km depth within a relatively cold subaxial lithosphere. Numerical modeling excludes dry melting below this crust-free lithosphere, because of the cooling effect of the long-offset Romanche transform combined with a regional mantle thermal minimum; however, modeling allows a limited extent of hydrous melting., This unusual lithosphere, unable to expel the melt fraction, characterizes cold spots along mid-ocean ridges.
494NYTimes Cited:13Cited References Count:31