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Bathymetry of the Pacific plate and its implications for thermal evolution of lithosphere and mantle dynamics

Abstract : [1] A long-standing question in geodynamics is the cause of deviations of ocean depth or seafloor topography from the prediction of a cooling half-space model (HSC). Are the deviations caused entirely by mantle plumes or lithospheric reheating associated with sublithospheric small-scale convection or some other mechanisms? In this study we analyzed the age and geographical dependences of ocean depth for the Pacific plate, and we removed the effects of sediments, seamounts, and large igneous provinces (LIPs), using recently available data sets of high-resolution bathymetry, sediments, seamounts, and LIPs. We found that the removal of seamounts and LIPs results in nearly uniform standard deviations in ocean depth of $300 m for all ages. The ocean depth for the Pacific plate with seamounts, LIPs, the Hawaiian swell, and South Pacific super-swell excluded can be fit well with a HSC model till $80–85 Ma and a plate model for older seafloor, particularly, with the HSC-Plate depth-age relation recently developed by Hillier and Watts (2005) with an entirely different approach for the North Pacific Ocean. A similar ocean depth-age relation is also observed for the northern region of our study area with no major known mantle plumes. Residual topography with respect to Hillier and Watts' HSC-Plate model shows two distinct topographic highs: the Hawaiian swell and South Pacific super-swell. However, in this residual topography map, the Darwin Rise does not display anomalously high topography except the area with seamounts and LIPs. We also found that the topography estimated from the seismic model of the Pacific lithosphere of Ritzwoller et al. (2004) generally agrees with the observed topography, including the reduced topography at relatively old seafloor. Our analyses show that while mantle plumes may be important in producing the Hawaiian swell and South Pacific super-swell, they cannot be the only cause for the topographic deviations. Other mechanisms, particularly lithospheric reheating associated with ''trapped'' heat below old lithosphere (Huang and Zhong, 2005), play an essential role in causing the deviations in topography from the HSC model prediction. the Pacific plate and its implications for thermal evolution of lithosphere and mantle dynamics,
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Shijie Zhong, Michael Ritzwoller, Nikolai Shapiro, William Landuyt, Jinshui Huang, et al.. Bathymetry of the Pacific plate and its implications for thermal evolution of lithosphere and mantle dynamics. Journal of Geophysical Research : Solid Earth, American Geophysical Union, 2007, 112 (B6), pp.B06412. ⟨10.1029/2006JB004628⟩. ⟨insu-01289995⟩

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