Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

The concurrent emergence and causes of double volcanic hotspot tracks on the Pacific plate

Abstract

Mantle plumes are buoyant upwellings of hot rock that transport heat from Earth’s core to its surface, generating anomalous regions of volcanism that are not directly associated with plate tectonic processes. The best-studied example is the Hawaiian–Emperor chain, but the emergence of two sub-parallel volcanic tracks along this chain1, Loa and Kea, and the systematic geochemical differences between them2,3 have remained unexplained. Here we argue that the emergence of these tracks coincides with the appearance of other double volcanic tracks on the Pacific plate and a recent azimuthal change in the motion of the plate. We propose a three-part model that explains the evolution of Hawaiian double-track volcanism: first, mantle flow beneath the rapidly moving Pacific plate strongly tilts the Hawaiian plume and leads to lateral separation between high- and low-pressure melt source regions; second, the recent azimuthal change in Pacific plate motion exposes high- and low-pressure melt products as geographically distinct volcanoes, explaining the simultaneous emergence of double-track volcanism across the Pacific; and finally, secondary pyroxenite, which is formed as eclogite melt reacts with peridotite4, dominates the low-pressure melt region beneath Loa-track volcanism, yielding the systematic geochemical differences observed between Loa- and Kea-type lavas3,5,6,7,8,9. Our results imply that the formation of double-track volcanism is transitory and can be used to identify and place temporal bounds on plate-motion changes.

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: Bathymetric map of recent Hawaiian volcanism, highlighting the Loa and Kea tracks.
Figure 2: Schematic diagram of the tilted Hawaiian plume, the overlying Pacific plate and associated surface volcanism.
Figure 3: Evidence for a recent change in the motion of the Pacific plate.
Figure 4: Simulation of a three-dimensional mantle plume beneath a moving plate.

References

  1. 1

    Jackson, E. D., Shaw, H. R. & Bargar, K. E. Calculated geochronology and stress field orientations along the Hawaiian chain. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 26, 145–155 (1975)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Tatsumoto, M. Isotopic composition of lead in oceanic basalt and its implication to mantle evolution. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 38, 63–87 (1978)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Abouchami, W. et al. Lead isotopes reveal bilateral asymmetry and vertical continuity in the Hawaiian mantle plume. Nature 434, 851–856 (2005)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Yaxley, G. M. & Green, D. H. Reactions between eclogite and peridotite: mantle refertilisation by subduction of oceanic crust. Schweiz. Mineral. Petrogr. Mitt. 78, 243–255 (1998)

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Frey, F. A. & Rhodes, J. M. Intershield geochemical differences among Hawaiian volcanoes: Implications for source compositions, melting process and magma ascent paths. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A. 342, 121–136 (1993)

    ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Norman, M. D. & Garcia, M. O. Primitive magmas and source characteristics of the Hawaiian plume: petrology and geochemistry of shield picrites. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 168, 27–44 (1999)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Weis, D., Garcia, M. O., Rhodes, J. M., Jellinek, M. & Scoates, J. S. Role of the deep mantle in generating the compositional asymmetry of the Hawaiian mantle plume. Nat. Geosci. 4, 831–838 (2011)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Jackson, M. G., Weis, D. & Huang, S. Major element variations in Hawaiian shield lavas: source features and perspectives from global ocean island basalt (OIB) systematics. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 13, Q09009 (2012)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Frey, F. A., Huang, S., Xu, G. & Jochum, K. P. The geochemical components that distinguish Loa- and Kea-trend Hawaiian shield lavas. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 185, 160–181 (2016)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Huang, S., Hall, P. & Jackson, M. G. Geochemical zoning of volcanic chains associated with Pacific hotspots. Nat. Geosci. 4, 874–878 (2011)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Payne, J. A., Jackson, M. G. & Hall, P. S. Parallel volcano trends and geochemical asymmetry of the Society Islands hotspot track. Geology 41, 19–22 (2013)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Harpp, K. S., Hall, P. S. & Jackson, M. G. in The Galapagos: A Natural Laboratory for the Earth Sciences. Ch. 3, 22–40 (John Wiley & Sons, 2014)

  13. 13

    Gripp, A. E. & Gordon, R. G. Young tracks of hotspots and current plate velocities. Geophys. J. Int. 150, 321–361 (2002)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Clouard, V. & Boneville, A. Ages of seamounts, islands and plateaus on the Pacific Plate. Geol. Soc. Am. Spec. Pap. 388 (2015)

  15. 15

    Bianco, T. A., Ito, G., Becker, J. M. & Garcia, M. O. Secondary Hawaiian volcanism formed by flexural arch decompression. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 6, Q08009 (2005)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Garcia, M. O. et al. Petrology, geochemistry and geochronology of Kaua’i lavas over 4.5 Myr: implications for the origin of rejuvenated volcanism and the evolution of the Hawaiian plume. J. Petrol. 51, 1507–1540 (2010)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Ballmer, M. D., Ito, G., van Hunen, J. & Tackley, P. J. Spatial and temporal variability in Hawaiian hotspot volcanism induced by small-scale convection. Nat. Geosci. 4, 457–460 (2011)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    Hofmann, A. W. & Farnetani, C. G. Two views of Hawaiian plume structure. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 14, 5308–5322 (2013)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Garcia, M. O. et al. Petrology, geochemistry, and ages of lavas from Northwest Hawaiian Ridge volcanoes. Geol. Soc. Am. Spec. Pap. 511 (2015)

  20. 20

    Hauri, E. H. Major-element variability in the Hawaiian mantle plume. Nature 382, 415–419 (1996)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    Sobolev, A. V., Hofmann, A. W., Sobolev, S. V. & Nikogosian, I. K. An olivine-free mantle source of Hawaiian shield basalts. Nature 434, 590–597 (2005)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    Jones, T. D., Davies, D. R., Campbell, I. H., Wilson, C. R. & Kramer, S. C. Do mantle plumes preserve the heterogeneous structure of their deep-mantle source? Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 434, 10–17 (2016)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23

    Hieronymus, C. F. & Bercovici, D. Discrete alternating hotspot islands formed by interaction of magma transport and lithospheric flexure. Nature 397, 604–607 (1999)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    Griffiths, R. W. & Richards, M. A. The adjustment of mantle plumes to changes in plate-motion. Geophys. Res. Lett. 16, 437–440 (1989)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25

    Cheng, C., Allen, R., Porritt, R. & Ballmer, M. Seismic Constraints on a Double-layered Asymmetric Whole-mantle Plume Beneath Hawaii 59–78 (John Wiley and Sons Inc, 2015)

  26. 26

    French, S. W. & Romanowicz, B. Broad plumes rooted at the base of the Earth’s mantle beneath major hotspots. Nature 525, 95–99 (2015)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27

    Fekiacova, Z., Abouchami, W., Galer, S., Garcia, M. & Hofmann, A. Origin and temporal evolution of Ko’olau volcano, Hawai’i: inferences from isotope data on the Ko’olau Scientific Drilling Project (KSDP), the Honolulu Volcanics and ODP site 843. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 261, 65–83 (2007)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28

    Austermann, J. et al. Quantifying the forces needed for the rapid change of Pacific plate-motion at 6 Ma. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 307, 289–297 (2011)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29

    Wessel, P. & Kroenke, L. W. Pacific absolute plate-motion since 145 Ma: An assessment of the fixed hot spot hypothesis. J. Geophys. Res. 113, B06101 (2008)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30

    Iaffaldano, G., Bodin, T. & Sambridge, M. Reconstructing plate-motion changes in the presence of finite-rotations noise. Nat. Commun. 3, 1048–1054 (2012)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31

    Lambart, S., Laporte, D. & Schiano, P. Markers of the pyroxenite contribution in the major-element compositions of oceanic basalts: review of the experimental constraints. Lithos 160, 14–36 (2013)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32

    Herzberg, C. Identification of source lithology in the Hawaiian and Canary Islands: implications for origins. J. Petrol. 52, 113–146 (2011)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33

    Wessel, P. Regional–residual separation of bathymetry and revised estimates of Hawaii plume flux. Geophys. J. Int. 204, 932–947 (2016)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34

    Iaffaldano, G., Hawkins, R., Bodin, T. & Sambridge, M. Redback: open-source software for efficient noise-reduction in plate kinematic reconstructions. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 15, 1663–1670 (2014)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  35. 35

    Davies, D. R., Wilson, C. R. & Kramer, S. C. Fluidity: a fully unstructured anisotropic adaptive mesh computational modeling framework for geodynamics. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 120, Q06001 (2011)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  36. 36

    Kramer, S. C., Wilson, C. R. & Davies, D. R. An implicit free-surface algorithm for geodynamical simulations. Phys. Earth Planet. Inter. 194, 25–37 (2012)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  37. 37

    Balay, S., Gropp, W. D., McInnes, L. C. & Smith, B. F. in Modern Software Tools for Scientific Computing 163–202 (Birkhauser Boston, 1997)

  38. 38

    Katz, R. F., Spiegelman, M. & Langmuir, C. H. A new parameterization of hydrous mantle melting. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 4 (2003)

  39. 39

    Yasuda, A., Fujii, T. & Kurita, K. Melting phase relations of an anhydrous mid-ocean ridge basalt from 3 to 20 GPa: implications for the behavior of subducted oceanic crust in the mantle. J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth 99, 9401–9414 (1994)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40

    Lambart, S., Baker, M. B. & Stolper, E. M. The role of pyroxenite in basalt genesis: Melt-PX, a melting parameterization for mantle pyroxenites between 0.9 and 5 GPa. J. Geophys. Res. 121, 5708–5735 (2016)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  41. 41

    Chauvel, C. et al. The size of plume heterogeneities constrained by Marquesas isotopic stripes. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 13, Q07005 (2011)

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  42. 42

    O’Connor, J., Stoffers, P. & Wijbrans, J. En echelon volcanic elongate ridges connecting intraplate Foundation Chain volcanism to the Pacific–Antarctic spreading center. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 189, 93–102 (2001)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  43. 43

    Workman, R. K., Hart, S. R, Jackson, M., Regelous, M., Farley, K. A., Blusztajn, J., Kurz, M. & Staudigel, H. Recycled metasomatized lithosphere as the origin of the Enriched Mantle II (EM2) end-member: evidence from the Samoan Volcanic Chain. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 5, Q04008 (2004)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  44. 44

    Jackson, M. G. et al. Helium and lead isotopes reveal the geochemical geometry of the Samoan plume. Nature 514, 355–358 (2014)

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

T.D.J. is funded by an Australian Postgraduate Award (1183a/2010). D.R.D. is funded by the ARC, under grant numbers FT140101262 and DP170100058. S.C.K is funded by EPSRC grant EP/L000407/1. C.R.W. is funded by the National Science Foundation under grant numbers EAR-1141976 and OCE-1358091. Numerical simulations were undertaken on the NCI National Facility in Canberra, Australia, which is supported by the Australian Commonwealth Government.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

T.D.J. and D.R.D. conceived this study, integrated all inter-disciplinary observational constraints and designed the numerical simulations. G.I. calculated the noise-mitigated polar wander path for the Pacific plate. T.D.J., I.H.C. and D.R.D. undertook the geochemical synthesis, and G.Y. guided the petrological interpretation. C.R.W. and S.C.K. supported the development and validation of the computational modelling framework Fluidity. T.D.J., D.R.D. and I.H.C. wrote the paper, with contributions from (and following discussion with) all authors.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to T. D. Jones.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Additional information

Reviewer Information Nature thanks G. Ito, N. Ribe and the other anonymous reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Publisher's note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Extended data figures and tables

Extended Data Figure 1 Bathymetric maps of Pacific plate hotspots with recent double volcanic tracks.

a, Society Island chain with the geochemically distinct Moua (blue) and Roca (red) trends outlined10. b, Marquases Island chain with the geochemically distinct Nuku (blue) and Motu (red) trends outlined41. c, Foundation Seamount chain with the geochemically distinct northern seamount chain (blue) and southern seamount chain (red) outlined42. d, Samoa Island chain with the geochemically distinct Vai (blue) and Malu (red) trends outlined43,44. The encircled number indicates the approximate age at which volcanism along both trends first appears in each. Hawaii and these four hotspots make up all the volcanic chains on the Pacific plate that have displayed persistent volcanism for the past 5 Myr, with the exception of the McDonald chain, which lacks the clear age-progressive characteristics often associated with mantle plumes (the Pitcairn, Caroline and Louisville tracks display a hiatus in volcanism for at least 2 Myr during this time interval and, hence, do not satisfy our criteria)13,14.

Extended Data Figure 2 Phase relations and solidus curves.

a, Schematic liquidus phase relations for the peridotite–basaltic system at 3.5 GPa, modified from ref. 4. The green circle labelled ‘P’ represents average peridotite mantle composition, the pink circle labelled ‘E’ represents average eclogite composition, and ‘C’ is the cotectic on the thermal divide at which secondary pyroxenites begin melting. The liquidus fields are labelled: Ol, olivine; Ga, garnet; Opx-Cpx, pyroxene; Co, coesite. Blue lines represent melt pathways with black arrows indicating increasing temperature (which is considered analogous to decreasing pressure). The green, pink and yellow regions are psuedo-eutectic melt compositions for peridotite, eclogite and pyroxenite, respectively. Note that the arrows on the melt pathways point up temperature to ‘C’, showing that the two-phase cotectic on the thermal divide has a higher solidus temperature than both four-phase eutectics. Therefore, pyroxenites forming on the thermal divide will have a higher solidus temperature than the peridotite eutectic and therefore melt at lower pressures4. b, Pressure temperature conditions for peridotite (green) and eclogite (pink) melting from refs 38 and 39, respectively. The pyroxenite solidus (yellow line) is inferred to be 50 K above the peridotite solidus (see text). The solid red line highlights the plume temperature from the model presented in Fig. 4, with the kink marking the depth at which the uppermost part of the plume approaches the base of the lithosphere.

Extended Data Figure 3 Three-dimensional plume simulations.

a, Same as Fig. 4a, but illustrating the melt fraction for eclogite, peridotite and pyroxenite by contouring at 0.5, 0.1 and 0.1, respectively (see Methods). b, Perspective view of plume 2.5 Myr after case a.

Extended Data Figure 4 Instantaneous versus gradual changes in the direction of plate motion.

a, Results from the model presented in Fig. 4, in which an instantaneous change in plate-motion direction of 20° was imposed. The plotted lines are: (i) the azimuth of the imposed plate-motion (blue dashed line), and; (ii) the azimuth of a straight line between the melt-rate maxima for peridotite and pyroxenite (black dots with green dotted line). Initially, the two azimuths are parallel (not shown), but after the change in plate-motion direction they are offset by 20° and slowly converge over time, with realignment by 8 Myr. b, Results from a model in which a gradual change in plate-motion is imposed (otherwise identical to the model in a), and data on the azimuthal change in Pacific plate-motion at Hawaii from our kinematic reconstruction presented in Fig. 3 (red solid line). In contrast to the instantaneous case (a), the two azimuths gradually diverge following the change in plate-motion direction at 6 Ma. The offset between the two azimuths reaches a maximum at around 2 Ma, when the change in plate-motion direction ceases and the offset decreases (but remains significant) towards the present day.

Extended Data Table 1 Parameters for input into Redback
Extended Data Table 2 Physical parameters in numerical simulation

PowerPoint slides

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Jones, T., Davies, D., Campbell, I. et al. The concurrent emergence and causes of double volcanic hotspot tracks on the Pacific plate. Nature 545, 472–476 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature22054

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.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing