Sedimentation and paleoceanography of the central equatorial Pacific
F. Theyer, E. Vincent, L. A. Mayer, 1989. "Sedimentation and paleoceanography of the central equatorial Pacific", The Eastern Pacific Ocean and Hawaii, E. L. Winterer, Donald M. Hussong, Robert W. Decker
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In 1872, a 61-m sail-powered corvette, the H.M.S. Challenger, under the scientific direction of C. W. Thomson, left Portsmouth, England, on a monumental natural-history survey of the world's ocean basins. Returning in 1876, this ambitious exploration laid the foundation for modern marine geology and oceanography. Despite the immense success of this expedition, it was not until after World War II that marine sciences began their true evolution. The equatorial Pacific—particularly its central portion—played a pivotal role in this rapid post-war scientific development. Indeed, from the late 1940s until today, numerous research programs followed the lead of the Challenger into this region, including five legs of the Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP). Their cumulative results have demonstrated that central Pacific sediments are sensitive recorders of the interplay among tectonism, climate, oceanic circulation, and biological productivity. It is not surprising then that this oceanic region, probably more so than any other, has been instrumental in establishing global Cenozoic stratigraphic schemes, in shaping the understanding of paleoceanographic events, and in the development of tectonic models for plate motion.
The evolution of our knowledge of the equatorial Pacific can be divided into three phases, with the H.M.S. Challenger expedition representing the first. Although not exclusively concerned with this region, the classic Challenger reports by Brady (1884) on foraminifers, by Haeckel (1887) on radiolarians, and particularly that by Murray and Renard (1891) on deep-sea sediments, unquestionably formed the basis of the unprecedented scientific growth that paleoceanographic research was to experience during the second phase, which spanned the late 1940s through mid-1970s.
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This new synthesis includes a section on plate kinematics, documenting the basis for a new interpretation of the magnetic anomaly patterns. It also includes: six chapters on various aspects of tectonics, petrologic characteristics, and hydrothermal processes of active ridges from the Galapagos Rift to the Juan de Fuca Ridge; a section on mid-plate volcanism, including the Hawaii-Emperor chain; five chapters on various aspects of northeastern Pacific sedimentary regimes; and nine chapters on the geology of the Pacific continental margin from the Aleutians to Guatemala, seen from the perspective of marine geology. Three separate oversize plates illustrate the bathymetry of the northeast Pacific; two more on the same base show distribution of sediment samples and types and magnetic anomaly data and tectonic interpretations; and others include a synthesis of the geology and bathymetry of the Hawaiian Islands, details of bathymetry along parts of the East Pacific Rise, and a major seismic profile across the Pacific margin of Guatemala.