Motion in the north Iceland volcanic rift zone accommodated by bookshelf faulting
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Green, R., White, R., & Greenfield, T. (2013). Motion in the north Iceland volcanic rift zone accommodated by bookshelf faulting. Nature Geoscience, 7 29-33. https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo2012
Along mid-ocean ridges the extending crust is segmented on length scales of 10–1,000 km. Where rift segments are offset from one another, motion between segments is accommodated by transform faults that are oriented orthogonally to the main rift axis. Where segments overlap, non-transform offsets with a variety of geometries accommodate shear motions. Here we use micro-seismic data to analyse the geometries of faults at two overlapping rift segments exposed on land in north Iceland. Between the rift segments, we identify a series of faults that are aligned sub-parallel to the orientation of the main rift. These faults slip through left-lateral strike-slip motion. Yet, movement between the overlapping rift segments is through right-lateral motion. Together, these motions induce a clockwise rotation of the faults and intervening crustal blocks in a motion that is consistent with a bookshelf-faulting mechanism, named after its resemblance to a tilting row of books on a shelf. The faults probably reactivated existing crustal weaknesses, such as dyke intrusions, that were originally oriented parallel to the main rift and have since rotated about 15° clockwise. Reactivation of pre-existing, rift-parallel weaknesses contrasts with typical mid-ocean ridge transform faults and is an important illustration of a non-transform offset accommodating shear motion between overlapping rift segments.
This work was funded by a research grant and studentships from the NERC and Shell.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo2012
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/245190