The Romanche transverse ridge (equatorial Atlantic) is located in the northern flank of the fracture zone, opposite the eastern ridge-transform intersection (RTI). It constitutes a major positive topographic anomaly that reaches a height of over 4 km above the level predicted by the thermal subsidence curve. A series of E-W aligned peaks, located on the crest of the transverse ridge, were at sea level during early and middle Miocene times; they are presently capped by a similar to 300 m thick, shallow-water carbonate platform that grew on a subsiding oceanic crust basement surface flattened by erosion at sea level. These structures are now about 1 km below sea level. High resolution seismic reflection surveys and multibeam morphobathymetry as well as study of samples recovered from the carbonate platform allowed a reconstruction of the paleoenvironment and of the vertical movements of the peaks starting from the lower Miocene. Ages derived from microfossils suggest that the base of the carbonate platform dates from 17-25 m.y. ago and the sinking of the platform started between 18 and 13 m.y. ago. These data were included in a numerical simulation model that takes into account thermal and tectonic subsidence, growth potential of the carbonates, subaerial and submarine erosion rates and Mio-Pliocene absolute sea level fluctuations. The results outline the subsidence history of the Romanche transverse ridge and suggest post-Miocene subsidence faster than that predicted by the thermal cooling model.
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