Marine Science Faculty Publications


Preliminary Attempt to Characterize the Rotation of Seafloor in the Pito Deep Area of the Easter Microplate Using a Submersible Magnetometer

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Lithosphere, Magnetic Vector, Clockwise Rotation, Rift System, Vector Rotation

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Several mechanisms have been proposed to account for the rotation of the nearly north-south abyssal hill fabric formed on the East Pacific Rise north of the Easter Microplate to the nearly east-west trends in the northern microplate interior. Proposed mechanisms include rigid microplate rotation, transform fault – parallel shear, and bookshelf faulting during the transfer of lithosphere from the Nazca Plate to the microplate. We used a submersible magnetometer on a NAUTILE dive program to measure the magnetic vector rotation of a pillow basalt and dike spur near Pito Deep, the present location of the tip of the propagating rift system that created the microplate. Our results, although too limited to draw strong conclusions from, suggest clockwise rotations of the seafloor magnetic vectors inconsistent with the transform-parallel shear model, and larger than can be explained solely by rigid microplate rotation.

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Marine Geophysical Researches, v. 23, p. 1-12