© 2015 Cardiff Scientific Society


Seafloor spreading, the process by which new volcanic ocean floor is created at mid-ocean ridges, generates 60% of the surface of the planet and is arguably the most fundamental geological process on Earth. As the plates are pulled apart hot, ductile mantle beneath is drawn upward, decompresses and partially melts, rising to form a

6-7km thick igneous ocean crust. This supposedly simple ’conveyor belt’ model has graced textbooks since the advent of the plate tectonic paradigm in the 1960s. However, the recovery of serpentinite – altered rock mantle – from the seafloor at some ridge axes requires us to re-examine the basic seafloor spreading paradigm. Why is the Earth’s crust missing? Did it never form, or has it been ripped away? Results from recent cruises to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge will attempt to solve this conundrum using a variety of tools both modern and ancient.         

17th February 2010 Large Chemistry Lecture Theatre, Cardiff University

A New View of Seafloor Spreading at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

Prof. Chris MacLeod Bsc PhD FGS

School of Earth & Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University

3-D perspective view of sea floor  bathymetry from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge