Limited latitudinal mantle plume motion for the Louisville hotspot

  • A Corrigendum to this article was published on 21 December 2012


Hotspots that form above upwelling plumes of hot material from the deep mantle typically leave narrow trails of volcanic seamounts as a tectonic plate moves over their location. These seamount trails are excellent recorders of Earth’s deep processes and allow us to untangle ancient mantle plume motions. During ascent it is likely that mantle plumes are pushed away from their vertical upwelling trajectories by mantle convection forces. It has been proposed that a large-scale lateral displacement, termed the mantle wind, existed in the Pacific between about 80 and 50 million years ago, and shifted the Hawaiian mantle plume southwards by about 15° of latitude. Here we use 40Ar/39Ar age dating and palaeomagnetic inclination data from four seamounts associated with the Louisville hotspot in the South Pacific Ocean to show that this hotspot has been relatively stable in terms of its location. Specifically, the Louisville hotspot—the southern hemisphere counterpart of Hawai’i—has remained within 3–5° of its present-day latitude of about 51° S between 70 and 50 million years ago. Although we cannot exclude a more significant southward motion before that time, we suggest that the Louisville and Hawaiian hotspots are moving independently, and not as part of a large-scale mantle wind in the Pacific.

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Figure 1: Louisville seamount trail location maps with IODP Expedition 330 drill sites and new 40Ar/39 Ar ages.
Figure 2: Louisville seamount ages compared to Pacific Plate APM models.
Figure 3: Downhole stratigraphic and inclination plots for IODP Site U1374 on Rigil Guyot.
Figure 4: Bootstrap inclination distributions for individual Louisville seamounts drilled by IODP Expedition 330.
Figure 5: Comparisons of observed flow mean inclinations for the Louisville hotspot to geomagnetic field model predictions.

Change history

  • 21 December 2012

    Nature Geoscience 5, 911–917 (2012); published online 25 November 2012. In the print version of this Article originally published, the present address for Toshitsugu Yamazaki was erroneously omitted. It is as follows: Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, The University of Tokyo, 5-1-5 Kashiwanoha, Kashiwa, Chiba 277-8564, Japan.


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This research used samples and data provided by the IODP. Financial support was provided by the NSF and IODP-USSSP. We thank J. Huard, S. Schnur and D. Heaton for support in the OSU Argon Geochronology Laboratory. The JOIDES Resolution captain, crew and technicians are thanked for their support during IODP Expedition 330. We also thank C. Constable and L. Tauxe for providing code for the geomagnetic field models and P. Arason for the inclination-only averaging code.

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All authors contributed extensively to the work presented in this paper. A.A.P.K., T.Y. and J.G. led and supervised IODP Expedition 330. A.A.P.K. carried out the 40Ar/39Ar geochronology analyses. J.S.G. carried out the bootstrap analysis and Kolmogorov–Smirnov statistical tests. J.S.G., N.P. and H.H. were the shipboard palaeomagnetists collecting the inclination measurements. N.P. was responsible for additional post-cruise data quality control. A.A.P.K. and J.S.G. wrote the main paper and the Supplementary Information. All authors co-edited this manuscript. The IODP Expedition 330 Scientific Party includes all other shipboard scientists responsible for core descriptions, igneous petrology and volcanology, geochemistry, palaeontology, sedimentology, downhole logging and physical properties.

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Correspondence to Anthony A. P. Koppers or Jörg Geldmacher.

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Koppers, A., Yamazaki, T., Geldmacher, J. et al. Limited latitudinal mantle plume motion for the Louisville hotspot. Nature Geosci 5, 911–917 (2012).

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