Missing Jigsaw Piece

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Science  05 Oct 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5847, pp. 13e
DOI: 10.1126/science.318.5847.13e

The Pacific tectonic plate apparently underwent a shift about 50 million years ago, as evidenced in the changing of the track of the Hawaiian-Emperor chain of seamounts. Why this happened has not been clear. Whittaker et al. (p. 83) show that additional plate movement between Australia and Antarctica around this time can be gleaned from magnetic and satellite gravity data, which would indicate that a major plate reorganization occurred between 50 and 53 million years ago. Revised Pacific Ocean-floor reconstructions suggest that subduction of the Izanagi spreading ridge and subsequent Marianas/Tonga-Kermadec subduction initiation may have been the ultimate causes of these events.

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