A 1990 sidescan sonar survey in the eastern region of the Nova-Canton Trough mapped 138°-striking abyssal-hill fabric trending into 70°-striking trough structures. The location and angle of intersection of the abyssal hills with the eastern Nova-Canton Trough effectively disprove a spreading-center origin of this feature. Free-air gravity anomalies derived from satellite altimetry data show continuity, across the Line Islands, of the Nova-Canton Trough with the Clipperton Fracture Zone. The Canton-Clipperton trend is copolar, about a pole at 30°S, 152°W, with other coeval Pacific-Farallon fracture-zone segments, from the Pau to Marquesas fracture zones. This copolarity leads us to postulate a Pacific-Farallon spreading pattern for the magnetic quiet zone region north and east of the Manihiki Plateau, with the Nova-Canton Trough originating as a transform fault in this system.

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