Deformation in a hyperslow oceanic rift: Insights from the tectonics of the São Miguel Island (Terceira Rift, Azores)

Sibrant ALR, Marques FO, Hildenbrand A, Boulesteix T, Costa ACG, Catalão J
Tectonics, 35,425–446,

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The evolution of hyperslow oceanic rifts, like the Terceira Rift (TR) in the Azores, is still poorly understood. Here we examine the distribution of strain and magmatism in the portion of the TR making up the Nubia-Eurasia plate boundary. We use São Miguel Island because it stretches most of the TR width, which allows to investigate the TR's architecture and shedding light on TR's age and mode of deformation. From topography and structural analysis, and new measurements of 380 faults and dikes, we show that (1) São Miguel has two main structural directions, N150 and N110, mostly concentrated in the eastern part of the island as an onshore continuation of the faults observed offshore in the NE (N110 faults) and SW (N140) TR walls; (2) a new N50-N80 fault system is identified in São Miguel; (3) fault and dike geometries indicate that eastern São Miguel comprises the TR's northern boundary, and the lack of major faults in central and western São Miguel indicates that rifting is mostly concentrated at master faults bounding the TR. Based on TR's geometry, structural observations and plate kinematics, we estimate that the TR initiated between 1.4 and 2.7 Ma ago and that there is no appreciable seafloor spreading associated with rifting. Based on plate kinematics, on the new structural data, and on São Miguel's structural and volcanic trends, we propose that the eastern two thirds of São Miguel lie along a main TR-related transform fault striking N70-N80, which connects two widely separated N130-N150 TR-trending segments.