Seismic Layer 2A: Evolution and Thickness From 0‐ to 70‐Ma Crust in the Slow‐Intermediate Spreading South Atlantic Academic Article uri icon


  • ©2019. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved. Layer 2A, the porous and permeable uppermost igneous oceanic crust, permits the circulation of fluid within the crust, the exchange of dissolved mineral species between the ocean and crust, and the convective dissipation of heat from the crust. We examine the presence, temporal extent, thickness, and evolution of layer 2A using multichannel seismic data collected at 30°S in the South Atlantic across crustal age ranges of 0–70 Ma and half spreading rates of 12–31 mm/year. We observe the layer 2A/2B boundary in 0–48 Myr old crust but not in crust older than ~48 Ma. The thickness of layer 2A in the South Atlantic has substantial variability, with a mean of 760 m and a standard deviation of 290 m. Layer 2A has no systematic change in thickness with age in the South Atlantic, and thickness does not correlate with spreading rate. The crust in the South Atlantic is never fully sealed by sediment cover, which implies that the fluid circulation system in the upper crust never becomes fully closed and the thickness of layer 2A can work as a proxy for the depth at which significant circulation can occur. The disappearance of the layer 2A/2B boundary in older crust implies that fluid circulation within the upper crust continues to occur for at least ~48 Myr after crustal formation in the South Atlantic, after which layer 2A becomes indistinguishable from layer 2B in reflection images.

author list (cited authors)

  • Estep, J., Reece, R., Kardell, D. A., Christeson, G. L., & Carlson, R. L.

complete list of authors

  • Estep, Justin||Reece, Robert||Kardell, Dominik A||Christeson, Gail L||Carlson, Richard L

publication date

  • August 2019