The mid-crust axial magma lens detected at fast and intermediate spreading mid-ocean ridges is believed to be the primary magma reservoir for formation of upper oceanic crust. However, the mechanism behind formation of the lower crust is a subject of an ongoing debate. The sheeted sill model proposed from observations of ophiloites requires the presence of multiple lenses/sills throughout lower crust but only a single lens is imaged directly beneath the innermost axial zone in prior seismic studies. Here, high-fidelity seismic data from the East Pacific Rise reveal series of reflections below the axial magma lens that we interpret as mid-lower crustal lenses. These deeper lenses are present between 9°20–57′N at variable two-way-travel-times, up to 4.6s, providing direct support for the sheeted sill model. From local changes in the amplitude and geometry of the events beneath a zone of recent volcanic eruption, we infer that melt drained from a lower lens contributed to the replenishment of the axial magma lens above and, perhaps, the eruption. The new data indicate that a multi-level sill complex is present beneath the East Pacific Rise that likely contributes to the formation of both the upper and lower crust.


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