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Nature. 2004 Jul 8;430(6996):167-73.

Prediction of Emperor-Hawaii seamount locations from a revised model of global plate motion and mantle flow.

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Institute for Frontier Research on Earth Evolution, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, 2-15 Natsushima-cho, Yokosuka 237-0061, Japan.


The bend in the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain is a prominent feature usually attributed to a change in Pacific plate motion approximately 47 Myr ago. However, global plate motion reconstructions fail to predict the bend. Here we show how the geometry of the Hawaiian-Emperor chain and other hotspot tracks can be explained when we combine global plate motions with intraplate deformation and movement of hotspot plumes through distortion by global mantle flow. Global mantle flow models predict a southward motion of the Hawaiian hotspot. This, in combination with a plate motion reconstruction connecting Pacific and African plates through Antarctica, predicts the Hawaiian track correctly since the date of the bend, but predicts the chain to be too far west before it. But if a reconstruction through Australia and Lord Howe rise is used instead, the track is predicted correctly back to 65 Myr ago, including the bend. The difference between the two predictions indicates the effect of intraplate deformation not yet recognized or else not recorded on the ocean floor. The remaining misfit before 65 Myr ago can be attributed to additional intraplate deformation of similar magnitude.

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