Abstract

Rocks dredged from a seamount 100 km northwest of Caroline Island, at the southern end of the Line Islands chain, contain Late Cretaceous fossils associated with volcanic debris. This association is evidence for the existence of a reef-bearing volcanic edifice with a minimum age of Late Cretaceous, 70 to 75 m.y., near Caroline Island. With the discovery of this seamount, the known occurrences of Late Cretaceous, reef-capped, volcanic edifices now extend a distance of 2,500 km, from Deep Sea Drilling Project Site 165 to 100 km northwest of Caroline Island. The apparent synchroneity of Late Cretaceous volcanism over this distance argues against the proposition that a single hotspot of the Hawaiian-Emperor type produced the Line Islands chain. Biochronologic data from the Line Islands indicate that the chain is not the temporal equivalent of the Emperor chain. Volcanic edifices of Cretaceous age are now known to extend from the Line Islands through the Mid-Pacific Mountains to the Marshall Islands and the western margin of the Pacific plate from Japan to the Marianas. A volcanic event occurred in the southern Line Islands during middle Eocene time; Eocene sediments were engulfed and altered by a volcanic eruption. The occurrence of both Cretaceous and Eocene volcanism in the southern Line Islands indicates that the history of the Line Islands is similar to that of the Marshall Islands.

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