Backarc rifting, constructional volcanism and nascent disorganised spreading in the southern Havre Trough backarc rifts (SW Pacific)

Wysoczanski, R.J.; Todd, E.; Wright, I.C.; Leybourne, M.I.; Hergt, J.M.; Adam, C.; Mackay, K.. 2010 Backarc rifting, constructional volcanism and nascent disorganised spreading in the southern Havre Trough backarc rifts (SW Pacific). Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 190 (1-2). 39-57.

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High resolution multibeam (EM300 and SEABEAM) data of the Southern Havre Trough (SHT), combined with observations and sample collections from the submersible Shinkai6500 and deep-tow camera, are used to develop a model for the evolution and magmatism of this backarc system. The Havre Trough and the associated Kermadec Arc are the product of westward subduction at the Pacific–Australian plate boundary. Detailed studies focus on newly discovered features including a seamount (Saito Seamount) and a deep graben (Ngatoroirangi Rift, > 4000 m water depth floored with a constructional axial volcanic ridge > 5 km in length and in excess of 200 m high), both of which are characterised by pillow and lobate flows estimated at < 20,000 years old based on sediment cover, high reflectivity and thin Mn crusts on recovered glassy olivine basalts and basaltic andesites. Elongate volcanic ridges at 35°15′S and 34°30′S, and backarc seamounts (35°30′S, 178°30′E) occur at the eastern margin of the SHT. Similar seafloor morphology is observed in the central and western portions of the basin, suggesting that recent volcanism may be broadly distributed across the backarc. Mass balance modelling indicates a maximum crustal thickness of ~ 11 km to < 6 km, similar to estimates of crustal thickness in the Lau Basin to the north. Given such high crustal attenuation and extensive backarc mafic magmatism within deep SHT rifts, we propose that the SHT is in an incipient phase of distributed and “disorganised” oceanic crustal accretion in multiple, ephemeral, and short but deep (> 4000 m) spreading systems. These discontinuous spreading systems are characterised by failed rifts, rift segmentation, and propagation. Successive episodes of magmatic intrusion into thinned faulted arc basement results in defocused asymmetrical accretion. Cross-arc volcanic chains, isolated volcanoes and underlying basement plateaus are interpreted to represent a “cap” of recent extrusives. However, they may also be composed entirely of newly accreted crust and the spatially extensive basement fabric of elongated volcanic ridges may be the surface expression of pervasive dike intrusion that has thoroughly penetrated and essentially replaced the original arc crust with newly accreted intrusives.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0377-0273
Additional Keywords: back arc basin; SW Pacific; bathymetry; tectonics; magmatism; spreading
Date made live: 28 Apr 2009 +0 (UTC)

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