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Equatorial Pacific gravity lineaments: interpretations with basement topography along seismic reflection lines

Mitchell, Neil C. and Davies, John Huw ORCID: 2018. Equatorial Pacific gravity lineaments: interpretations with basement topography along seismic reflection lines. Marine Geophysical Research 39 (4) , pp. 551-565. 10.1007/s11001-018-9351-x

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The central equatorial Pacific is interesting for studying clues to upper mantle processes, as the region lacks complicating effects of continental remnants or major volcanic plateaus. In particular, the most recently produced maps of the free-air gravity field from satellite altimetry show in greater detail the previously reported lineaments west of the East Pacific Rise (EPR) that are aligned with plate motion over the mantle and originally suggested to have formed from mantle convection rolls. In contrast, the gravity field 600 km or farther west of the EPR reveals lineaments with varied orientations. Some are also parallel with plate motion over the mantle but others are sub-parallel with fracture zones or have other orientations. This region is covered by pelagic sediments reaching ~ 500–600 m thickness so bathymetry is not so useful for seeking evidence for plate deformation across the lineaments. We instead use depth to basement from three seismic reflection cruises. In some segments of these seismic data crossing the lineaments, we find that the co-variation between gravity and basement depth is roughly compatible with typical densities of basement rocks (basalt, gabbro or mantle), as expected for some explanations for the lineaments (e.g., mantle convection rolls, viscous asthenospheric inter-fingering or extensional deformation). However, some other lineaments are associated with major changes in basement depth with only subtle changes in the gravity field, suggesting topography that is locally supported by varied crustal thickness. Overall, the multiple gravity lineament orientations suggest that they have multiple origins. In particular, we propose that a further asthenospheric inter-fingering instability mechanism could occur from pressure variations in the asthenosphere arising from regional topography and such a mechanism may explain some obliquely oriented gravity lineaments that have no other obvious origin.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: Springer Verlag (Germany)
ISSN: 0025-3235
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 12 April 2018
Date of Acceptance: 14 March 2018
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 00:54

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