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Top Story

Sub-sea rift spills secrets to seismic probe

The first study to spring from an international expedition to map the seafloor off the coast of Spain has revealed details about the evolution of the fault that separates the continental and oceanic plates. The results describe the internal structure of a large 3-D section of the Galicia, a non-volcanic passive margin between Europe and the Atlantic basin that shows no signs of past volcanic activity, and where the crust is remarkably thin. That thinness made it easier to capture 3-D data for about 525 square miles of the Galicia, the first transition zone in the world so analyzed. Sophisticated seismic reflection tools towed behind a ship and on the ocean floor enabled the researchers to model the Galicia. Though the rift is buried under several hundreds of meters of powdered rock and invisible to optical instruments, seismic tools fire sound into the formation. The sounds that bounce back tell researchers what kind of rock lies underneath and how it’s configured.

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