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Tectonic reconstructions in magnetic quiet zones: Insights from the Greater Ontong Java Plateau

By
Michael T. Chandler
Michael T. Chandler
Department of Geology and Geophysics, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawai‘i, USA
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Paul Wessel
Paul Wessel
Department of Geology and Geophysics, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawai‘i, USA
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Brian Taylor
Brian Taylor
Department of Geology and Geophysics, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawai‘i, USA
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Published:
May 01, 2015

A substantial portion of the Pacific basin is composed of seafloor formed during the Cretaceous Normal Superchron (CNS). Because this region lacks the magnetic lineations typically required to constrain tectonic reconstructions, we employ additional methods for interpreting CNS Pacific history, involving seafloor fabric, basement paleolatitudes, and age data. We utilize seafloor fabric, including fracture zones and the rift margins of large igneous provinces, to derive quantitative rotations. The timing of such rotations is constrained using rock ages, bounding magnetic isochrons, and estimates of interactions with surrounding terrains. The method relies on high-resolution shipboard bathymetry and rock ages, as much fine-scale seafloor fabric useful for reconstructions is not visible in satellite altimetry data. We show that the Ontong Java, Manihiki, and Hikurangi oceanic plateaus likely originated as one large superplateau, the Ontong Java Nui (OJN). Reconstructions of OJN at 123 Ma reveal large offsets between observed and predicted paleolatitudes. Observed paleolatitudes exhibit a systematic bias, which may be attributed to large-scale rotation of the entire plateau. Such a rotation would imply either that OJN was initially decoupled from the Pacific plate and able to rotate independently or that the orientation of the Pacific plate at 123 Ma differed from conventional model predictions. However, large uncertainties in absolute plate motion models prior to ca. 80 Ma preempt a conclusive interpretation for OJN formation. Given an ~10 km resolution limit for satellite altimetry, continued investments in seagoing research will be needed to investigate tectonic events in magnetic quiet zones.

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GSA Special Papers

The Origin, Evolution, and Environmental Impact of Oceanic Large Igneous Provinces

Clive R. Neal
Clive R. Neal
Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences, 156 Fitzpatrick Hall, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556, USA
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William W. Sager
William W. Sager
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Houston, Houston, Texas 77204-5007, USA
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Takashi Sano
Takashi Sano
Department of Geology and Paleontology, National Museum of Nature and Science, Tsukuba 305-0005, Japan
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Elisabetta Erba
Elisabetta Erba
Department of Earth Sciences, Università degli Studi di Milano, 20133 Milan, Italy
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Geological Society of America
Volume
511
ISBN print:
9780813725116
Publication date:
May 01, 2015

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