EGU24-15924, updated on 09 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The Mussau Ridge and Trench – news from an infant subduction zone

Philipp Brandl1, Christoph Beier2, Leon Waßmund1,3, Jacob Geersen4, and Felix Genske5
Philipp Brandl et al.
  • 1GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Kiel, Germany (
  • 2Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland (
  • 3Institut für Geowissenschaften, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Kiel, Germany (
  • 4Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde, Rostock, Germany (
  • 5Institut für Mineralogie, Universität Münster, Münster, Germany (

The Mussau Trench between Papua New Guinea and the Federated States of Micronesia is considered as the type locality for induced subduction initiation through transference. Despite its significant role for studying and understanding global plate tectonic cycles, little is known about its tectonic  geomorphology, lithostratigraphy, and geodynamic evolution. During research expedition SO299 DYNAMET with the German RV SONNE, the morphology and shallow structure of the Mussau Ridge was mapped along its entire length and sampled at representative locations. At the central segment, the ridge was visually mapped and stratigraphically sampled using the ROV. Here we present the first results from petrology, geochemistry and structural mapping of the ridge. Preliminary glass major and trace element data indicate a depleted MORB-like nature of the exposed crust that is in agreement with previous findings. Stratigraphically, lavas (layer 2A) and sheeted dykes (layer 2B) of the oceanic igneous crust are exposed. Whole rock trace element and radiogenic isotopes analyses are currently underway to further constrain the geochemical character of the crust and its associated mantle sources. Initial results from hydroacoustic and visual mapping indicate the presence of an active thrust system based on pristine fault scarps and large rubble piles lacking any sediment cover. However, shape and structure of the ridge vary along strike, and only the central portion holds indications for tectonic uplift. In the south and in the north, the ridge shows evidence for a strong lateral shear component. We combine the obtained results into an initial model of the tectonic evolution of the ridge and how this fits into regional plate tectonic models.

How to cite: Brandl, P., Beier, C., Waßmund, L., Geersen, J., and Genske, F.: The Mussau Ridge and Trench – news from an infant subduction zone, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-15924,, 2024.