Nonlinear sediment thickness increase at the western East Pacific Rise flank, 45° S

Michael.Horn [ at ]


Sediment thickness was evaluated on the western flank of the East Pacific Rise (EPR) at 45°S, based on high-resolution seismic data gathered during cruise 213/2 of R/V Sonne in 2011. Two zones with distinctly different sediment thickness were identified, separated by a transitional zone bordering a pseudo-fault. Sediment in the more distal zone 2 is almost twice as thick (~120 m) as in zone 1 close to the EPR. This is in contrast to the expected sedimentary column thickening with seafloor age and distance from the spreading axis. The younger of two seismic units detected within the sedimentary column (EPR-2) occurs mainly in the distal zone on crust older than 9 Ma, whereas on younger crust it is present only in small isolated bodies. Both sedimentary units drape the basement. The drape is interpreted to represent particle settling from suspension and a generally low regional primary productivity. The spatial variation in sediment thickness cannot be explained by existing models, and other processes considered in the present case are (1) higher productivity in the western sector of the survey area, where thicker sediments were observed (zone 2), (2) the formation of sediment drifts near basement highs (‘seamount effect’), due to flow of Lower Circumpolar Deep Water affecting sediment deposition, and (3) erosion and/or non-deposition of the younger EPR-2 unit, due to elevated bed shear stresses associated with eddies transferring kinetic energy to the seafloor

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Peer revision
ISI/Scopus peer-reviewed
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.1007/s00367-013-0335-1

Cite as
Horn, M. and Uenzelmann-Neben, G. (2013): Nonlinear sediment thickness increase at the western East Pacific Rise flank, 45° S , Geo-Marine Letters, 33 (5), pp. 381-390 . doi: 10.1007/s00367-013-0335-1



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