A stochastic model for the creation of abyssal hill topography at a slow spreading center

A. Malinverno, L. E. Gilbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The present study is an attempt to model abyssal hill topography, i.e., the randomly varying topography that is superimposed on the subsidence of the ocean floor due to thermal contraction. We assume that abyssal hill topography is created by faulting, and that it can be represented as the convolution of a series of stochastic fault offsets with a fault impulse response. As a constraint, the power spectrum of the model-generated topography will have to resemble the power spectrum of a profile of abyssal hill topography across a typical slow spreading ridge such as found in the South Atlantic. Our results suggest that the effects of a faulting event must be limited to distances of about 3.5 km and that tectonic activity must take place in the immediate vicinity of the inner wall of the axial valley. If faulting is indeed the process that creates abyssal hill topography, the best fit flexural impulse response to faulting implies a flexural rigidity of 5 × 1017N m. If instead constructional volcanism contributes significantly to the topography, our study suggests that the emplacement of volcanic constructions must also take place within a narrow width w about the axis. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1665-1675
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue numberB2
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes


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