Data from International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 371 reveal vertical movements of 1–3 km in northern Zealandia during early Cenozoic subduction initiation in the western Pacific Ocean. Lord Howe Rise rose from deep (~1 km) water to sea level and subsided back, with peak uplift at 50 Ma in the north and between 41 and 32 Ma in the south. The New Caledonia Trough subsided 2–3 km between 55 and 45 Ma. We suggest these elevation changes resulted from crust delamination and mantle flow that led to slab formation. We propose a “subduction resurrection” model in which (1) a subduction rupture event activated lithospheric-scale faults across a broad region during less than ~5 m.y., and (2) tectonic forces evolved over a further 4–8 m.y. as subducted slabs grew in size and drove plate-motion change. Such a subduction rupture event may have involved nucleation and lateral propagation of slip-weakening rupture along an interconnected set of preexisting weaknesses adjacent to density anomalies.

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