At mid-ocean ridges two oceanic plates are drawn apart by the farfield pull of subducting plates. This extension creates normal faulting along either side of the spreading axis.

3D image of fault scarps at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (red).

A lot of research is done to understand how much of this spreading is accomodated by tectonic faulting and how much is filled in with magma. To understand faults we have to identify them and measure their height and slope properties.

Automatic fault extraction methods.

For my masters thesis I experimented with ways to extract faults from bathymetric maps based on slope (faults are steep), curvature (the bottoms and tops of faults are sharp, so we should see a sudden change in slope) and edge detection. I tested my methods with maps of different pixel sizes to see how much resolution affects the size and shape properties that need to be quantified.