National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1997

Objective classification of oceanic ridge-crest terrains using two-dimensional spectral models of bathymetry: Application to the Juan de Fuca Ridge

Fox, C.G.

Mar. Geophys. Res., 18(6), 707–728, doi: 10.1007/BF00313882 (1996)

An important application of detailed bathymetric mapping is the interpretation of geological processes based on the nature of the fine-scale morphology of the seafloor. This interpretation is usually accomplished through qualitative analysis of contour maps. In this paper, an objective classification technique, based on a two-dimensional spectral model of bathymetry developed by Fox and Hayes (1985) is applied to detailed Sea Beam data from the Juan de Fuca Ridge. Parameters of the model can be directly related to seafloor properties corresponding to 1) isotropic (non-directionally dependent) roughness; 2) anisotropic (directionally dependent) roughness; 3) orientation of the anisotropic component; and 4) spectral roll-off (~fractal dimension), by fitting the model surface to two-dimensional amplitude spectra of bathymetry determined on a regular grid over the study area. A test area was selected which encompasses the southern volcanic rift zone of Axial Volcano and the northern terminus of the Vance Segment. Parameters of the model clearly define the contrast between the constructional volcanic terrain (rough, isotropic, with high fractal dimension) and the tectonic extensional terrain (smoother, anisotropic, with low fractal dimension). An agglomerative, hierarchical cluster analysis is applied to the data, independent of spatial information, to delineate groups of spectra with similar characteristics. Distinct, mappable regions, corresponding to volcanic and tectonic provinces, are objectively determined. Also, coherent sub-regions of consistent spectral properties occur within the larger volcanic/tectonic divisions. The classification is extended to the Juan de Fuca Ridge system from 44°30′N to 47°20′N through combining these results with an a priori technique (K-means clustering). Broad-scale physiographic regions of the Juan de Fuca Ridge are delineated by the technique, which may aid geologists in the interpretation of crustal accretion processes at seafloor spreading centers.

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