Crustal structure of the Agulhas Ridge (South Atlantic Ocean): Formation above a hotspot?

Wilfried.Jokat [ at ]


The southern South Atlantic Ocean contains several features believed to document the traces of hotspot volcanism during the early formation of the ocean basin, namely the Agulhas Ridge and the Cape Rise seamounts located in the southeast Atlantic between 36°S and 50°S. The Agulhas Ridge parallels the Agulhas-Falkland Fracture Zone, one of the major transform zones of the world. The morphology of the ridge changes dramatically from two parallel segments in the southwest, to the broad plateau-like Agulhas Ridge in the northeast. Because the crustal fabric of the ridge is unknown relating its evolution to hotspots in the southeast Atlantic is an open question. During the RV Polarstern cruise ANT-XXIII-5 seismic reflection and refraction data were collected along a 370 km long profile with 8 Ocean Bottom Stations to investigate its crustal fabric. The profile extends in NNE direction from the Agulhas Basin, 60 km south of the Agulhas Ridge, and continues into the Cape Basin crossing the southernmost of the Cape Rise seamounts. In the Cape Basin we found a crustal thickness of 5.5–7.5 km, and a velocity distribution typical for oceanic crust. The Cape Rise seamounts, however, show a higher velocity in comparison to the surrounding oceanic crust and the Agulhas Ridge. Underplated material is evident below the southernmost of the Cape Rise seamounts. It also has a 5–8% higher density compared to the Agulhas Plateau. The seismic velocities of the Agulhas Ridge are lower, the crustal thickness is approximately 14 km, and age dating of dredge samples fromits top provides clear evidence of rejuvenated volcanismat around 26 Ma. Seismic data indicate that although the Cape Rise seamounts formed above a mantle thermal anomaly it had a limited areal extent, whereas the hotspot material that formed the Agulhas Ridge likely erupted along a fracture zone.

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DOI 10.1016/j.tecto.2016.08.011

Cite as
Jokat, W. and Hagen, C. (2017): Crustal structure of the Agulhas Ridge (South Atlantic Ocean): Formation above a hotspot? , Tectonophysics, 716 , pp. 21-32 . doi: 10.1016/j.tecto.2016.08.011

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