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Geodynamics of the amirante ridge and trench complex, Western Indian Ocean
Volume: 54
Issue: 1
Pages: 81 - 92
The formation and evolution of the ∼600 km long arcuate Amirante Ridge and Trench Complex (ARTC) is a significant geomorphic-structural feature in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO). The WIO contains evidence of at least two major magmatic episodes followed by continental rifting within the span of a little more than 20 million years. This involved the splitting of Madagascar from India at around 85 Ma and then separation between India and the Seychelles at 64-63 Ma as a possible consequence of two powerful volcanic eruptions from the Marion and Reunion hot spots, respectively. Formation and evolution of the ARTC represents this tumultuous period in the Indian Ocean, approximately between 85 and 60 Ma (Late Cretaceous-Early Tertiary). We integrated geophysical, palaeomagnetical, and petrological data to examine three existing models that attempt to explain the formation of ARTC. In contrast, our study hints at several stages of extension and compression responsible for its formation. Our integrated data also suggest that the Carlsberg Ridge may have played a prominent role in the evolution of the ARTC that seems to have formed through a ridge-jump process after the conjugate spreading centres - Mascarene and Palitana ridges formed earlier during the India-Madagascar separation - ceased spreading because of violent eruption of the Reunion hot spot at around 65 Ma. The eruption disturbed the plumbing system of magma ascent, resulting in cessation of spreading along the conjugate spreading centres, forcing a ridge jump. A collage of seismic refraction and reflection, free-air gravity, magnetic anomaly data, and Ar dating of rocks indicates that as the Carlsberg Ridge swept the Seychelles towards south, the crust between Madagascar and the Seychelles was increasingly compressed, with the abandoned northern Mascarene spreading centre absorbing the maximum stress. With continued compression, the western limb of the abandoned spreading ridge was thrust below the eastern limb to a limited degree. This partial subduction agrees with the gravity and seismic results. Our new study also accounts for the anomalous presence of 14 km-thick oceanic crust beneath the ARTC and its characteristic difference in petrology with other established subduction zones in the world. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
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JournalInternational Geology Review