Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Another clue for fast motion of the Hawaiian hotspot 60 to 50 million years ago

27.02.2018

Recent studies have suggested that the Hawaiian hotspot moved relatively quickly southward in the period from 60 to about 50 million years ago. This hypothesis is supported by a new study of Kevin Konrad and colleagues. They have evaluated new rock dating of the Rurutu volcanic chain and added data from the Hawaiian-Emperor chain and the Louisville chain. It shows that the Hawaiian-Emperor hotspot displays strong motion between 60 and 48 million years ago.

The island chain of Hawaii consists of several volcanoes, which are fed by a "hotspot". In geosciences a "hotspot" refers to a phenomenon of columnar shaped streams, which transport hot material from the deep mantle to the surface. Like a blow torch, the material burns through the Earth's crust and forms volcanoes. For a long time, it was assumed that these hotspots are stationary. If the tectonic plate moves across it, a chain of volcanoes evolves, with the youngest volcano at one end, the oldest at the other.


The graph shows the ages of seamounts of the three volcanic chains in the Pacific and their relative movement over time (left). The location of the volcanic chains are shown in the map (right). The stars mark the youngest end or the active volcanoes today. (Fig. Nature Communications, Kevin Konrad et al.)

This concept was initially proposed for the Hawaiian Islands. They are the youngest end of the Hawaiian-Emperor chain that lies beneath the Northwest Pacific. But soon there was doubt over whether hotspots are truly stationary. The biggest contradiction was a striking bend of about 60 degrees in this volcanic chain, which originated 47 million years ago.

"If you try to explain this bend with just a sudden change in the movement of the Pacific Plate, you would expect a significantly different direction of motion at that time relative to adjacent tectonic plates," says Bernhard Steinberger of the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences. "But we have not found any evidence for that."

Recent studies have suggested that apparently two processes were effective: On the one hand, the Pacific Plate has changed its direction of motion. On the other hand, the Hawaiian hotspot moved relatively quickly southward in the period from 60 to about 50 million years ago today – and then stopped. If this hotspot motion is considered, only a smaller change of Pacific plate motions is needed to explain the volcano chain.

This hypothesis is now supported by work in which Steinberger is also involved. First author Kevin Konrad, Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, and his team have evaluated new rock dating of volcanoes in the Rurutu volcanic chain, including, for example, the Tuvalu volcanic islands in the Western Pacific. Furthermore, they added similar data from the Hawaiian-Emperor chain and the Louisville chain in the Southern Pacific.

Based on the geography and the age of volcanoes in these three chains, researchers can look into the geological past and see how the three hotspots have moved relative to each other over millions of years. The new data published in the journal “Nature Communications” shows that the relative motion of hotspots under the Rurutu and Louisville is small while the Hawaiian-Emperor hotspot displays strong motion between 60 and 48 million years ago relative to the other two hotspots.

"This makes it very likely that mainly the Hawaii hotspot has moved," says Steinberger. According to his geodynamic modelling the Hawaiian hotspot moved at a rate of several tens of kilometers per million years. Paleomagnetic data support this interpretation, says Steinberger. "Our models for the motion of the Pacific Plate and the hotspots therein still have some inaccuracies. With more field data and information about the processes deep in the mantle, we hope to explain in more detail how the bend in the Hawaiian-Emperor chain has evolved."

Study: On the Relative Motions of Long-lived Pacific Mantle Plumes; Kevin Konrad, Anthony A.P. Koppers, Bernhard Steinberger, Valerie Finlayson, Jasper Konter, Matthew G. Jackson, Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-03277-x

A related image can be found here: https://media.gfz-potsdam.de/gfz/wv/pm/18/10745_Nature-Communications_Kevin-Konr...
The graph shows the ages of seamounts of the three volcanic chains in the Pacific and their relative movement over time (left). The location of the volcanic chains are shown in the map (right). The stars mark the youngest end or the active volcanoes today. (Fig. Nature Communications, Kevin Konrad et al.)

Ralf Nestler | Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam - Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Wintertime Arctic sea ice growth slows long-term decline: NASA
07.12.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Why Tehran Is Sinking Dangerously
06.12.2018 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam - Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

New discoveries predict ability to forecast dementia from single molecule

12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine

CCNY-Yale researchers make shape shifting cell breakthrough

12.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Pain: Perception and motor impulses arise in the brain independently of one another

12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>