Abstract

In contrast to the long narrow volcanic chains in the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic hotspot tracks, in particular in the South Atlantic (e.g., Tristan-Gough, Discovery, Shona, and Bouvet), are irregular and, in some cases, diffuse and discontinuous. An important question is whether this irregularity results from tectonic dismemberment of the tracks or if it represents differences in the size, structure, and strength of the melting anomalies. Here we present new age and geochemical data from volcanic samples from Richardson Seamount, Agulhas Ridge along the Agulhas-Falkland Fracture Zone (AFFZ), and Meteor Rise. Six samples yielded ages of 83–72 Ma and are 10–30 m.y. younger than the underlying seafloor, indicating that they are not on-axis seamounts associated with seafloor spreading. The incompatible element and Sr-Nd-Pb-Hf isotopic compositions range from compositions similar to those of the Gough domain of the nearby Tristan-Gough hotspot track to compositions similar to samples from the Shona bathymetric and geochemical anomaly along the southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge (49°–55°S), indicating the existence of a Shona hotspot as much as 84 m.y. ago and its derivation from a source region similar to that of the Tristan-Gough hotspot. Similar morphology, ages, and geochemistry indicate that the Richardson, Meteor, and Orcadas seamounts originally formed as a single volcano that was dissected and displaced 3500 km along the AFFZ, providing a dramatic example of how plate tectonics can dismantle and disseminate a hotspot track across an ocean basin.

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