Morfoestructura y evolución del ramal N160 de la dorsal de la Cuenca Nor-Fidjiana (Pacífico sudoeste)



The North Fiji Basin is a complex marginal basin formed 10 Ma ago. It is located in the south-west Pacific, on the border of the Pacific and Indo-Australian crustal plates, between two subduction zones of opposed polarity: the New Hebndes trench, to the west, and the Tonga- Kennadec trench, to the east. The North Fiji Basin contains, on a small scale, many of the essential components of global plate tectonics: fracture zones, active spreading ridges, and triple junctions. In the center of the North Fiji Basin, there is a spreading axis constituted of three separate branches which can be individualized in accordance to their dominant directions. One of them, the N160 segment, is discussed in detail in this article, mainly based on recent data sets obtained during the Yokosuka 90 cruise (STARMER project, managed by the IFREMER, France, and the Science and Technology Agency, Japan). The aim of this cruise, carried out between 10th January and 6th February 1991, was the geological and geophysical study of the N160 section of the North Fiji Basin Ridge.

Specific features of the N160 segment are pointed out which make it especially interesting with regard to the general knowledge and hypotheses about oceanic spreading ridges. As an example, the N160 segment shows an intermediate spreading rate of 5 cm/a and, at the same time, has a morphology which should be considered as being typical of slow-spreading centers. A succession of en échelon alternating rises and grabens exists between the two triple junctions limiting the segment, the northern one belonging to the Ridge-Ridge-Ridge (RRR) type, and the southern one to the Ridge-Ridge-Fracture Zone (RRF) type.

The entire N160 segment is an extremely young morphostructural feature which, according to recorded magnetic stripes, began to be active less than one million years ago as a result of a rapid volcano-tectonic event.

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