The oceanic crustal structure at the extinct, slow to ultraslow Labrador Sea spreading center

Matthias Delescluse, Thomas Funck, Sonya A. Dehler, Keith E. Louden, Louise Watremez

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31 Citations (Scopus)


Two seismic refraction lines were acquired along and across the extinct Labrador Sea spreading center during the Seismic Investigations off Greenland, Newfoundland and Labrador 2009 cruise. We derived two P wave velocity models using both forward modeling (RAYINVR) and traveltime tomography inversion (Tomo2D) with good ray coverage down to the mantle. Slow-spreading Paleocene oceanic crust has a thickness of 5 km, while the Eocene crust created by ultraslow spreading is as thin as 3.5 km. The upper crustal velocity is affected by fracturation due to a dominant tectonic extension during the waning stage of spreading, with a velocity drop of 0.5 to 1 km/s when compared to Paleocene upper crustal velocities (5.2-6.0 km/s). The overall crustal structure is similar to active ultraslow-spreading centers like the Mohns Ridge or the South West Indian Ridge with lower crustal velocities of 6.0-7.0 km/s. An oceanic core complex is imaged on a 50 km long segment of the ridge perpendicular line with serpentinized peridotites (7.3-7.9 km/s) found 1.5 km below the basement. The second, ridge-parallel line also shows extremely thin crust in the extinct axial valley, where 8 km/s mantle velocity is imaged just 1.5 km below the basement. This thin crust is interpreted as crust formed by ultraslow spreading, which was thinned by tectonic extension.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5249-5272
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015


  • Labrador Sea
  • Monte Carlo analysis
  • oceanic core complex
  • refraction seismics
  • spreading ridges
  • ultraslow spreading

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 3: Energy Resources


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