Relocation of Light and Moderate-Magnitude (M4–6) Seismicity Along the Central Mid-Atlantic

K. Michael Cleveland, Charles J. Ammon, Jonas Kintner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


We estimate precise relative epicentroid locations of earthquakes along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) between 12°N and 19°N using intermediate-period Rayleigh and Love wave cross-correlation measurements. We relocate 152 earthquakes with magnitudes ranging between 4.0 and 6.0 and when possible use P waveform modeling to estimate centroid depths. We compare surface-wave locations to locations in the U.S. Geological Survey, Global Centroid Moment Tensor, and Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory hydroacoustic catalogs (Smith et al., and demonstrate that surface-wave based relative location techniques provide significant improvement on precision. Our analyses shift locations to more tectonically consistent alignments that correlate strongly with bathymetric features. Relocations along the Fifteen-Twenty and Marathon Fracture Zones (FZs) move to within a few kilometers of the transform bathymetry. Events along ridge segments scatter over a distance of about 10–20 km perpendicular to the local plate boundary and most ridge-segment seismicity clusters spatially. North of the Fifteen-Twenty FZ, ridge events along several segments locate preferentially in the North American Plate, suggesting recent asymmetric seismic strain release and perhaps asymmetric spreading. Along the ridge between 13°N and 14°N, moderate-magnitude seismic strain release concentrates in an area with two active oceanic core complexes (OCC) along the western rift boundary, but the largest events along this segment appear to occur along the eastern boundary rift valley faults and represent deformation opposite the OCC detachment surface processes. Precise moderate-magnitude earthquake epicentroid locations for events that occurred over the last few decades complement the results of temporary seismometer deployments that have imaged microseismic activity along the MAR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2843-2856
Number of pages14
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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