Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Rocks Under The Northern Ocean Are Found To Resemble Ones Far South

Date:
May 5, 2008
Source:
The Earth Institute at Columbia University
Summary:
Scientists probing volcanic rocks from deep under the frozen surface of the Arctic Ocean have discovered a special geochemical signature until now found only in the southern hemisphere. The rocks were dredged from the remote Gakkel Ridge, which lies under 3,000 to 5,000 meters of water; it is Earth's most northerly undersea spreading ridge.

The western portion of the Gakkel Ridge has been found to contain a geochemical signature until now known mainly from the Indian Ocean.
Credit: IBCAO

Scientists probing volcanic rocks from deep under the frozen surface of the Arctic Ocean have discovered a special geochemical signature until now found only in the southern hemisphere. The rocks were dredged from the remote Gakkel Ridge, which lies under 3,000 to 5,000 meters of water; it is Earth's most northerly undersea spreading ridge. The study appears in the May 1 issue of the journal Nature.

The Gakkel extends some 1,800 kilometers beneath the Arctic ice between Greenland and Siberia. Heavy ice cover prevented scientists from getting at it until the 2001 Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge Expedition, in which U.S and German ice breakers cooperated. This produced data showing that the ridge is divided into robust eastern and western volcanic zones, separated by an anomalously deep segment. That abrupt boundary contains exposed unmelted rock from earth's mantle, the layer that underlies the planet's hardened outer shell, or lithosphere.

By studying chemical trace elements and isotope ratios of the elements lead, neodymium, and strontium, the paper's authors showed that the eastern lavas, closer to Siberia, display a typical northern hemisphere makeup. However, the western lavas, closer to Greenland, show an isotopic signature called the Dupal anomaly. The Dupal anomaly, whose origin is intensely debated, is found in the southern Indian and Atlantic oceans, but until now was not known from spreading ridges of the northern hemisphere. Lead author Steven Goldstein, a geochemist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO), said that this did not suggest the rocks came from the south. Rather, he said, they might have formed in similar ways. "It implies that the processes at work in the Indian Ocean might have an analog here," said Goldstein. Possible origins debated in the south include upwelling of material from the deep earth near the core, or shallow contamination of southern hemispheric mantle with certain elements during subduction along the edges of the ancient supercontinent of Pangea.

At least in the Arctic, the scientists say they know what happened. Some 53 million years ago, what are now Eurasia and Greenland began separating, with the Gakkel as the spreading axis. Part of Eurasia's "keel"--a relatively stable layer of mantle pasted under the rigid continent and enriched in certain elements that are also enriched in the continental crust--got peeled away. As the spreading continued, the keel material got mixed with "normal" mantle that was depleted in these same elements. This formed a mixture resembling the Dupal anomaly. The proof, said Goldstein, is that the chemistry of the western Gakkel lavas appear to be mixtures of "normal" mantle and lavas coming from volcanoes on the Norwegian/Russian island of Spitsbergen. Although Spitsbergen is an island, it is attached to the Eurasian continent, and its volcanoes are fueled by melted keel material.

"This is unlikely to put an end to the debate about the origin of the southern hemisphere Dupal signature, as there may be other viable explanations for it," said Goldstein. "On the other hand, this study nails it in the Arctic. Moreover, it delineates an important process within Earth's system, where material associated with the continental lithospheric keel is transported to the deeper convectiing mantle."

The other authors are based at LDEO; Harvard University; Oregon State University; and the University of Tulsa. The study was supported by the National Science Foundation. Copies of the study, "Origin of a 'Southern Hemisphere' Geochemical Signature in the Arctic Upper Mantle," may be obtained from Nature, Dr. Goldstein, or the press office at Columbia University's Earth Institute, of which LDEO is a member.

 


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Earth Institute at Columbia University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

The Earth Institute at Columbia University. "Rocks Under The Northern Ocean Are Found To Resemble Ones Far South." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080430134246.htm>.
The Earth Institute at Columbia University. (2008, May 5). Rocks Under The Northern Ocean Are Found To Resemble Ones Far South. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080430134246.htm
The Earth Institute at Columbia University. "Rocks Under The Northern Ocean Are Found To Resemble Ones Far South." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080430134246.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) — Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) — British researchers were able to use Mount Everest's low altitudes to study insulin resistance. They hope to find ways to treat diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Walking, Talking Oil-Drigging Rig

The Walking, Talking Oil-Drigging Rig

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 15, 2014) — Pennsylvania-based Schramm is incorporating modern technology in its next generation oil-drigging rigs, making them smaller, safer and smarter. Ernest Scheyder reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

AFP (Apr. 14, 2014) — To curb the growing numbers of feral cats in the US capital, the Washington Humane Society is encouraging residents to set traps and bring the animals to a sterilization clinic, after which they are released.. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins