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Aseismic ridges on underthrusting oceanic plates often trend into cusps or irregular indentations in the trace of the subduction zone. For example, the Hawaii-Emperor Ridge trends into the Kuril-Aleutian cusp, and the Marianas arc is bounded by the Marcus-Necker Ridge on the north and the Caroline Ridge on the south. The association between ridges and cusps is too common to be due to chance; it is proposed that the extra buoyancy of the plate with its aseismic ridge gives the plate greater resistance to sinking. This would inhibit back-arc extension and thereby produce a notch in the subduction zone. Island...

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