The Subduction Process

Criminology and Criminal Justice. A Very Short Introduction. Don't have an account? Sign in via your Institution. Sign in with your library card. Contents Front Matter Acknowledgements List of illustrations 1.

Theory and Evidence of Seafloor Spreading | Earth Eclipse

The basic idea 2. Seafloor spreading and magnetic anomalies 3. Fracture zones and transform faults 4.

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Subduction of oceanic lithosphere 5. Rigid plates of lithosphere 6. Tectonics of continents 7. The condition on the mid-oceanic ridge was substantially different from other surfaces away from the region because of the warmer temperature. He described that the molten magma from the mantle arose due to the convection currents in the interior of the earth. The flow of the materials goes through the upper mantle and leaks through the plates of the crust.

The Theory of Seafloor Spreading

This makes the temperature near the mid-oceanic ridge becomes warm and the other surface to become cold because as the molten magma continues to push upward, it moves the rocks away from the ridge. The seafloor drilling system led to the evidence that supports the seafloor-spreading hypothesis.

The samples obtained from the seafloor drill reveals that the rocks away from the mid-oceanic ridge were relatively older than the rocks near to it. The old rocks were also denser and thicker compared to the thinner and less dense rocks in the mid-oceanic ridge. This means that the magma that leaks from the ridge pushes the old rocks away and as they increasingly become distant, they more likely become older, denser, and thicker. On the other hand, the newest, thinnest crust is located near the center of the mid-ocean ridge, the actual site of seafloor spreading.

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By the use of radiometric age dating and studying fossil ages, it was also found out the rocks of the sea floor age is younger than the continental rocks. It is believed that continental rocks formed 3 billion years ago, however the sediments samples from the ocean floor are found to be not exceeding million years old. It is a clear evidence that the formation of rocks in the sea floor is due to reabsorption of materials.

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In the 20th century, the magnetic survey was conducted in the Mid-ocean ridge in order to investigate evidence of sea-floor spreading. By using the magnetometer, the magnetic polarity will be shown through a timescale that contains the normal and a reverse polarity. The minerals contained in the rocks are oriented opposite to the magnetic field. The patterns of the magnetic field will then be compared to the rocks to determine its approximate ages.

The investigation of the mid-ocean-ridge, using the magnetic stripes resulted in the three discoveries. First, stripes of normal and reversed polarity were alternate across the bottom of the ocean. Second, the alternate stripes of normal and reversed polarity formed a mirror image to the other side of the ridge. The typical rift system consists of three rift arms at approximately degree angles. These areas are named triple junctions and can be found in several places across the world today.

The separated margins of the continents evolve to form passive margins. Hess' theory was that new seafloor is formed when magma is forced upward toward the surface at a mid-ocean ridge. If spreading continues past the incipient stage described above, two of the rift arms will open while the third arm stops opening and becomes a 'failed rift'.

As the two active rifts continue to open, eventually the continental crust is attenuated as far as it will stretch. At this point basaltic oceanic crust begins to form between the separating continental fragments.

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When one of the rifts opens into the existing ocean, the rift system is flooded with seawater and becomes a new sea. The Red Sea is an example of a new arm of the sea. As a result, the new sea will evaporate partially or completely several times before the elevation of the rift valley has been lowered to the point that the sea becomes stable. During this period of evaporation large evaporite deposits will be made in the rift valley. Later these deposits have the potential to become hydrocarbon seals and are of particular interest to petroleum geologists.

Sea floor spreading can stop during the process, but if it continues to the point that the continent is completely severed, then a new ocean basin is created. The Red Sea has not yet completely split Arabia from Africa, but a similar feature can be found on the other side of Africa that has broken completely free. South America once fit into the area of the Niger Delta. The Niger River has formed in the failed rift arm of the triple junction.

The Process of Sea Floor Spreading

As new seafloor forms and spreads apart from the mid-ocean ridge it slowly cools over time. Older seafloor is therefore colder than new seafloor, and older oceanic basins deeper than new oceanic basins due to isostasy. If the diameter of the earth remains relatively constant despite the production of new crust, a mechanism must exist by which crust is also destroyed.

The destruction of oceanic crust occurs at subduction zones where oceanic crust is forced under either continental crust or oceanic crust. Today, the Atlantic basin is actively spreading at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Seafloor Spreading Tutorial

Only a small portion of the oceanic crust produced in the Atlantic is subducted. However, the plates making up the Pacific Ocean are experiencing subduction along many of their boundaries which causes the volcanic activity in what has been termed the Ring of Fire of the Pacific Ocean. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is a " textbook " slow-spreading center, while the East Pacific Rise is used as an example of fast spreading.

Spreading centers at slow and intermediate rates exhibit a rift valley while at fast rates an axial high is found within the crustal accretion zone. Since the new oceanic basins are shallower than the old oceanic basins, the total capacity of the world's ocean basins decreases during times of active sea floor spreading. At the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and in other areas , material from the upper mantle rises through the faults between oceanic plates to form new crust as the plates move away from each other, a phenomenon first observed as continental drift.

When Alfred Wegener first presented a hypothesis of continental drift in , he suggested that continents ploughed through the ocean crust.