Thermal and mechanical constraints on the lithosphere beneath the Marquesas swell

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Abstract

The Marquesas Islands, like most active or recently active hotspot chains, lie on anomalously shallow sea floor, and their subsidence history points to a fundamentally thermal origin for the swell1, as do heat flow and subsidence data for the swells beneath Bermuda2 and Hawaii3,4. Here we apply a new linear filtering technique to geoid height and depth anomaly data over the Marquesas, to constrain the depth to the high-temperature, low-density material responsible for elevating the swell. We determine an isostatic compensation depth of 45±5 km for the swell, and best-fitting values for lithospheric flexural rigidity and island load density of 5×1022 N m and 2,700 kg m−3, respectively. The swell's shallow compensation depth and low flexural rigidity call for anomalously high temperatures within the lithosphere5,6.

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Fischer, K., McNutt, M. & Shure, L. Thermal and mechanical constraints on the lithosphere beneath the Marquesas swell. Nature 322, 733–736 (1986) doi:10.1038/322733a0

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