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Mid-ocean ridge

 
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This animation illustrates in a  very simplified manner, the rising of magma at the mid-oceanic ridge level and the creation of oceanic crust. A ridge is a zone of divergence where two plates separate from each other.

Geologists distinguish two types of divergence:

  • "Fast" ridges which separate more than 10 cm per year (between 12 and 17 cm per year for the Pacific Ocean ridges).
  • "Slow" ridges which separate less than 5 cm per year (about 2.5 cm per year for the Atlantic ridge).

The topography of the ridge strongly depends on this speed.

Note: The "rolling carpet" model presented in this animation can lead you to believe that the rising of magma in the centre is the cause of the separation of plates. This is not the case. Geological models actually show that the deep convection currents, situated in the mantle would be the cause of a drifting movement of plates on a large scale. The ridge, like subduction, would therefore be a consequence of continental drift.

Note that the "plate techtonic theory" is a young theory, announced in 1967, and is always evolving.

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  • Illustrate how the ocean floor forms.
  • Define transformation fault and a diverging frontier
  • Replace this animation in a more general setting of plate techtonics and continental drift