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Mid-Ocean Ridge Research Cruise

The main research objective of this cruise was to provide, through the combination of physical models of melting and melt segregation and the geochemistry of the "zero age" lavas, an integrated picture of mantle flow, melt production and migration, and mantle heterogeneity beneath a fast spreading mid-ocean ridge.

Led by Professors Donald Forsyth and Alberto Saal, the research team felt the best place to study the process of melt transport was in the Quebrada/Discovery/Gofar fracture zone system on the East Pacific Rise. (Check out the CRUISE BLOG).

Professors Alberto Saal and Don Forsyth examine a sample taken from the Pacific Ridge

The team carried out about 60 dredges, with at least three dredges on each intratransform spreading center, plus sampling fresh flows along leaky transform segments. Before dredging, they mapped the area with multibeam bathymetry and backscatter (pseudo-sidescan), and gravity and magnetic anomaly measurements. They constructed 3-D models of mantle flow, melt production and melt migration to compare to the composition of the recovered basalts. In conjunction with the 3-D models, we modelled the variations in crustal thickness using gravity and bathymetry data. The pseudo-sidescan allowed us to identify dredge targets of unsedimented, recent lava flows.

This project promoted the collaboration between geophysicists and geochemists from Brown University and WHOI. Through collaboration with WHOI scientists studying the unusual character of earthquakes in this area, they contributed to understanding the mechanics of earthquake generation.

Two Brown graduate student theses resulted from the project. Seven undergraduate and graduate students acquired technical training and experience at sea. Through class and lab visits before and after the cruise, and email communication during the cruise, they contributed to education at two local elementary schools.

Other project collaborators:
This project promoted the collaboration between geophysicists and geochemists from Brown University and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI).