Rejuvenation of the lithosphere by the Hawaiian plume

Abstract

The volcanism responsible for creating the chain of the Hawaiian islands and seamounts is believed to mark the passage of the oceanic lithosphere over a mantle plume1,2. In this picture hot material rises from great depth within a fixed narrow conduit to the surface, penetrating the moving lithosphere3. Although a number of models describe possible plume–lithosphere interactions4, seismic imaging techniques have not had sufficient resolution to distinguish between them. Here we apply the S-wave ‘receiver function’ technique to data of three permanent seismic broadband stations on the Hawaiian islands, to map the thickness of the underlying lithosphere. We find that under Big Island the lithosphere is 100–110 km thick, as expected for an oceanic plate 90–100 million years old that is not modified by a plume. But the lithosphere thins gradually along the island chain to about 50–60 km below Kauai. The width of the thinning is about 300 km. In this zone, well within the larger-scale topographic swell, we infer that the rejuvenation model5 (where the plume thins the lithosphere) is operative; however, the larger-scale topographic swell is probably supported dynamically.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Location map of permanent broadband stations KIP (IRIS/GEOSCOPE), MAUI (GEOFON) and POHA (IRIS/USGS).
Figure 2: Stacked S-receiver functions of the three stations projected on the two profiles of Fig. 1 according to their piercing points at 100 km depth.
Figure 3

References

  1. 1

    Wilson, J. T. A possible origin of the Hawaiian island. Can. J. Phys. 41, 863–868 (1963)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Morgan, W. J. Convective plumes in the lower mantle. Nature 230, 42–43 (1971)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Nataf, H.-C. Seismic imaging of mantle plumes. Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 28, 391–417 (2000)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Ribe, N. M. & Christensen, U. R. The dynamical origin of the Hawaiian volcanism. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 171, 517–531 (1999)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Detrick, R. S. & Crough, S. T. Island subsidence, hot spots, and lithospheric thinning. J. Geophys. Res. 83, 1236–1244 (1978)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Sleep, N. H. Hotspots and mantle plumes: Some phenomenology. J. Geophys. Res. 95, 6715–6736 (1990)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Jordan, T. H. in The Mantle Sample: Inclusions in Kimberlites and Other Volcanics (eds Boyd, F. R. & Meyer, H. O. A.) 1–14 (Proc. 2nd Int. Kimberlite Conference, American Geophysical Union, 1979)

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Robinson, E. M. The topographic and gravitational expression of density anomalies due to melt extraction in the uppermost oceanic mantle. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 90, 221–228 (1988)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Phipps Morgan, J., Morgan, W. J., Zhang, Y.-S. & Smith, W. H. F. Observational hints for a plume-fed, suboceanic asthenosphere and its role in mantle convection. J. Geophys. Res. 100, 12753–12767 (1995)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Priestley, K. & Tilmann, F. Shear-wave structure of the lithosphere above the Hawaiian hot spot from two-station rayleigh wave phase velocity measurements. Geophys. Res. Lett. 26, 1493–1496 (1999)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Woods, M., Leveque, J. J. & Okal, E. A. Two-station measurements of Rayleigh wave group velocity along the Hawaiian swell. Geophys. Res. Lett. 18, 105–108 (1991)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Woods, M. T. & Okal, E. A. Rayleigh-wave dispersion along the Hawaiian Swell: a test of lithospheric thinning by the thermal rejuvenation at a hotspot. Geophys. J. Int. 125, 325–339 (1996)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Bock, G. Long-period S to P converted waves and the onset of partial melting beneath Oahu, Hawaii. Geophys. Res. Lett. 18, 869–872 (1991)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Li, X. et al. Mapping the Hawaiian plume with converted seismic waves. Nature 405, 938–941 (2000)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Collins, J. A., Vernon, F. L., Orcutt, J. A. & Stephen, R. A. Upper mantle structure beneath the Hawaiian swell: constraints from the ocean seismic network pilot experiment. Geophys. Res. Lett. 29, doi: 101029/2001GL013302 (2002)

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Laske, G., Phipps Morgan, J. & Orcutt, J. A. First results from the Hawaiian SWELL pilot experiment. Geophys. Res. Lett. 26, 3397–3400 (1999)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Faber, S. & Müller, G. Sp phases from the transition zone between the upper and lower mantle. Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 70, 487–508 (1980)

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    Farra, V. & Vinnik, L. Upper mantle stratification by P and S receiver functions. Geophys. J. Int. 141, 699–712 (2000)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank G. Asch and J. Mechie for their aid. We also thank the people of the Kaleahala National Park for supporting our station MAUI. This work has been supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft within the ICDP project and by the GeoForschungsZentrum, Potsdam. Waveform data have been provided by the IRIS, GEOSCOPE and GEOFON data centres.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Rainer Kind.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Li, X., Kind, R., Yuan, X. et al. Rejuvenation of the lithosphere by the Hawaiian plume. Nature 427, 827–829 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature02349

Download citation

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.