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Bathymetry and gravity data collected during Legs 5, 6, and 7 of the 1993 GLORIA Expedition and the recently released 2-min altimetry-derived global gravity grid are used to determine the effective elastic thickness of the lithosphere along the Easter Seamount Chain (ESC). Forward modeling, admittance, and coherence methods yield consistent results. With the exception of the eastern and western ends of the ESC the effective elastic thickness along the chain is ∼1–4 km. The thin elastic thickness for the majority of the ESC seamounts is compatible with a young seafloor age at the time of loading derived from new radiometric ages of the seamounts along the chain and a magnetic isochron age interpretation of the Nazca plate seafloor age. The elastic thickness southeast of the Nazca fracture zone is ∼6 km, apparently because of the seafloor age discontinuity across the fracture zone. The elastic thickness near the San Felix Island, at the eastern end of the ESC, is even greater (∼11 km), which is compatible with the estimated seafloor age at the time of loading. A slight increase in the effective elastic thickness of the far western part of the ESC suggests dynamic compensation or less thermal weakening of lithosphere above a plume channel versus directly above the plume center. These findings combined with published geochemistry support a hotspot origin for the ESC, complicated by large-scale plate boundary reorganizations and channeling of plume material to the East Pacific Rise.

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Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth, v. 102, issue B12, p. 27305-27317.

© Copyright 1997, American Geophysical Union.

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