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The OCEAN experiment is an integrated geophysical study of a region of the Cape Verde abyssal plain that formed at 140 Ma. Deep seismic reflection and ocean bottom hydrophone (OBH) refraction data were acquired along lines parallel and perpendicular to the paleoridge axis trend identified from a detailed magnetic anomaly survey. The igneous basement is overlain by about 1.3 km of sediment which enables improved imaging of intracrustal structure beyond that possible near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge axis. We describe the results of a 150-km long profile oriented parallel to magnetic anomalies M15 and M16, along which deep seismic reflection data collected by the British Institutions Reflection Profiling Syndicate are complemented by refraction data constrained by four OBHs. The line spans an entire spreading segment between two fracture zones; the northern of which has an offset of 40 km and the other (central) has an offset of only 10 km. Away from the fracture zones, the mean igneous crustal thickness is 7.2 km; near both fracture zones, thinning of up to 4 km is observed, giving a mean igneous crustal thickness over the whole segment of approximately 6.5 km. Differences are seen between the two fracture zones in their seismic velocity structure, in the associated basement topography, and in the presence of a strong reflection extending into the mantle beneath the northern fracture zone. The boundary between oceanic layers 2 and 3 correlates with variably coherent normal incidence reflections and a change in the character of the reflectivity. A number of planar reflections up to 10 km in length are present within the middle and lower crust, dipping outward from beneath low-amplitude basement highs at ??? 15??; these appear to be present only within layer 3. The Moho has several expressions in the reflection data, including isolated reflection events, a local increase in reflected amplitudes, and a downward decrease in coherent reflections. At the center of the segment there is a zone at the base of the crust within which both high- and low-velocity materials are present. This zone shows an enhanced level of discontinuous normal incidence reflectivity and may represent an initial fractionation event as melt was emplaced at the spreading ridge.
Additional Publication Details
Along-axis variability in crustal accretion at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge: Results from the OCEAN study