Evaluating hot spot-ridge interaction in the Atlantic from regional-scale seismic observations

James B. Gaherty, Robert A. Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


We probe variations in mantle temperature, composition, and fabric along hot spot-influenced sections of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR), using surface waves from nearby ridge earthquakes recorded on broadband island-based seismic stations. We invert frequency-dependent phase delays from these events to estimate one-dimensional mean shear velocity and radial shear anisotropy profiles in the upper 200 km of the mantle within two seafloor age intervals: 5-10 Ma and 15-20 Ma. Mean shear velocity profiles correlate with apparent hot spot flux: lithosphere formed near the low-flux Ascension hot spot is characterized by high mantle velocities, while the MAR near the higher-flux Azores hot spot has lower velocities. The impact of the high-flux Iceland hot spot on mantle velocities along the nearby MAR is strongly asymmetric: the lithospheric velocities near the Kolbeinsey ridge are moderately slow, while velocities near the Reykjanes ridge estimated in previous studies are much slower. Within each region the increase in shear velocity with age is consistent with a half-space cooling model, and the velocity variations observed between Ascension, the Azores, and Kolbeinsey are consistent with approximately ±75° potential-temperature variation among these sites. In comparison, the Reykjanes lithosphere is too slow to result purely from half-space cooling of a high-temperature mantle source. We speculate that the anomalously low shear velocities within the lithosphere produced at the Reykjanes ridge result from high asthenospheric temperatures of +50-75 K combined with ∼12% (by volume) gabbro retained in the mantle due to the imbalance between high hot spot-influenced melt production and relatively inefficient melt extraction along the slow spreading Reykjanes. Radial shear anisotropy in the upper 150 km also indicates an apparent hot spot influence: mantle fabric near Ascension is quite weak, consistent with previous models of anisotropy produced by corner flow during slow seafloor spreading. The fabric near the Azores and the Kolbeinsey ridge is stronger, suggesting that the hot spot increases mantle deformation beyond that produced by slow seafloor spreading in these regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberQ05006
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Hot spots
  • Mid-ocean ridge
  • Oceanic lithosphere
  • Surface waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluating hot spot-ridge interaction in the Atlantic from regional-scale seismic observations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this