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Volcanism, jump and propagation on the Sheba ridge, eastern Gulf of Aden: segmentation evolution and implications for oceanic accretion processes

Abstract : The rifting between Arabia and Somalia, which started around 35 Ma, was followed by oceanic accretion from at least 17.6 Ma leading to the formation of the present-day Gulf of Aden. Bathymetric, gravity and magnetic data from the Encens-Sheba cruise are used to constrain the structure and segmentation of the oceanic basin separating the conjugate continental margins in the eastern part of the Gulf of Aden between 51 degrees E and 55.5 degrees E. Data analysis reveals that the oceanic domain along this ridge section is divided into two distinct areas. The Eastern area is characterized by a shorter wavelength variation of the axial segmentation and an extremely thin oceanic crust. In the western segment, a thicker oceanic crust suggests a high melt supply. This supply is probably due to an off-axis melting anomaly located below the southern flank of the Sheba ridge, 75 km east of the major Alula-Fartak transform fault. This suggests that the axial morphology is produced by a combination of factors, including spreading rate, melt supply and the edge effect of the Alula-Fartak transform fault, as well as the proximity of the continental margin. The oceanic domains have undergone two distinct phases of accretion since the onset of seafloor spreading, with a shift around 11 Ma. At that time, the ridge jumped southwards, in response to the melting anomaly. Propagating ridges were triggered by the melting activity, and propagated both eastward and westward. The influence of the melting anomaly on the ridges decreased, stopping their propagation since less than 9 Ma. From that time up to the present, the N025 degrees E-trending Socotra transform fault developed in association with the formation of the N115 degrees E-trending segment #2. In recent times, a counter-clockwise rotation of the stress field associated with kinematic changes could explain the structural morphology of the Alula-Fartak and Socotra-Hadbeen fracture zones.
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Elia d'Acremont, Sylvie Leroy, Marcia Maia, Pascal Gente, Julia Autin. Volcanism, jump and propagation on the Sheba ridge, eastern Gulf of Aden: segmentation evolution and implications for oceanic accretion processes. Geophysical Journal International, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2010, 180 (2), pp.535-551. ⟨10.1111/j.1365-246X.2009.04448.x⟩. ⟨insu-00452873⟩



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