Abstract

GSA Bulletin, Volume 88, page 1404.

GSA Bulletin, Volume 87, page 1678.

GSA Bulletin, Volume 88, page 247.

GSA Bulletin, Volume 88, page 364.

GSA Bulletin, Volume 88, page 299.

GSA Bulletin, Volume 88, page 1479.

Magnetic and bathymetric data from the eastern Pacific have been analyzed and a model for the evolution of the Galapagos region developed. The Farallon plate appears to have broken apart along a pre-existing Pacific-Farallon fracture zone, possibly the Marquesas fracture zone, at about 25 m.y. B.P. to form the Cocos and Nazca plates. This break is marked on the Nazca plate topographically by the Grijalva scarp and magnetically by a rough-smooth boundary coincident with the scarp. The oldest Cocos-Nazca magnetic anomalies parallel this boundary, implying that the early Cocos-Nazca spreading center trended east-northeast. This system soon reorganized into an approximately east-west rise–north-south transform configuration, which has persisted until the present, and the Pacific-Cocos-Nazca triple junction has since migrated north from its original location near lat 5°S. If correct, the combination of these simple geometric constraints produced the “enigmatic” east-trending anomalies south of the Carnegie Ridge.

The axes of the Cocos-Nazca spreading center and the Carnegie Ridge are essentially parallel; this can lead to paradoxical conclusions about interpretation of the Cocos and Carnegie Ridges as hotspot tracks. Hey and others (1977) have shown that recent accretion on the Cocos-Nazca spreading center has been asymmetric, resulting at least in part from small discrete jumps of the rise axis. I show here that the geometric objections to both the “hot-spot” and “ancestral-ridge” hypotheses on the origin of the Cocos and Carnegie Ridges can be resolved with an asymmetric-accretion model. However, all forms of the ancestral-ridge hypothesis encounter more severe geometric difficulties, and these results support the hotspot hypothesis.

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