Ultraslow spreading mid-ocean ridges

At mid-ocean ridges, the lithospheric plates move apart at rates of about 5-150 mm/year and new oceanic lithosphere is continuously formed. At low spreading rates of less than 20 mm/year, this engine stutters. Very little melt is formed and it has difficulty in making its way to the ocean floor through a cold, thick lithosphere. Therefore, the formation process of new ocean lithosphere differs at ultraslow spreading ridges from all other ocean basins. Ultraslow ridges represent a separate category of mid-ocean ridges, accounting for about 15% of the total length of mid-ocean ridges worldwide. Since ultraslow ridges are located in the Arctic Ocean and the stormy Southwest Indian Ocean and are therefore fairly difficult to reach, the spreading processes of this distinct class of mid-ocean ridges are still poorly understood.

In various research projects we are investigating the active spreading processes based on the seismic activity of the Arctic Ridge System and the Southwest Indian Ridge.

Group leader

Prof. Dr. Vera Schlindwein



In the project KNIPAS "Knipovich Ridge Passive Seismic Experiment" we recorded and analyzed earthquake activity between two volcanic centres along an entire ultraslow ridge segment.

In the project MOVE "Mid-Ocean Volcanoes and Earthquakes" we compiled and analyzed the first extensive dataset of local earthquake records on ultra-slow ridges.

We are also involved in other projects along slow and ultraslow spreading ridges.