EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Characterizing mantle deformation processes during the rift-to-drift transition at magma-poor margins

Nicholas Montiel1, Emmanuel Massini2, Luc Lavier1, and Othmar Müntener3
Nicholas Montiel et al.
  • 1University of Texas Institute for Geophysics, Jackson School of Geoscience, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, United States of America
  • 2M&U sasu, Grenoble, France
  • 3University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland

A holistic understanding of rift initiation, evolution, and variation is made complicated by the difficulties of deep seismic imaging, limited modern examples of continental rifting, and few accessible outcrops of fossil rifted margins. In particular, The temporal structural and rheological evolution of the mantle lithosphere during riftingis poorly constrained. The mantle lithosphere rheology controls lithospheric strength at initiation, but how deformation is partitioned between the crust and mantle,  and how the paths for melt migration from the asthenosphere to the rift surface evolve during rifting is fundamental for our understanding of the rift-to-drift evolution .
Here, we use elastoplastic-viscoelastoplastic modeling in concert with published deep seismic profiles of Atlantic rifted margins and geological insights from the Lanzo peridotite outcrops in the Alps to propose a new mode of extensional tectonics in the subcontinental mantle. We run a series of dynamic models varying initial conditions and mechanisms of deformation localization in the mantle lithosphere consistent with mechanisms of ductile shear zone formation observed at slow spreading centers. Models and geophysical surveys show homologous, sigmoidal reflectors in the mantle, a reversal of fault vergence as seafloor spreading develops, exhumation of the mantle, and increasing magmatic accretion. Geological evidence, along with the coincidence of magmatic accretion and extensional structures in the mantle, suggests that faults in the mantle may serve as conduits for melt, resulting in bright reflectors on seismic profiles.

How to cite: Montiel, N., Massini, E., Lavier, L., and Müntener, O.: Characterizing mantle deformation processes during the rift-to-drift transition at magma-poor margins, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-13043,, 2022.


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