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Major Australian-Antarctic Plate Reorganization at Hawaiian-Emperor Bend Time

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Science  05 Oct 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5847, pp. 83-86
DOI: 10.1126/science.1143769

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Abstract

A marked bend in the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain supposedly resulted from a recent major reorganization of the plate-mantle system there 50 million years ago. Although alternative mantle-driven and plate-shifting hypotheses have been proposed, no contemporaneous circum-Pacific plate events have been identified. We report reconstructions for Australia and Antarctica that reveal a major plate reorganization between 50 and 53 million years ago. Revised Pacific Ocean sea-floor reconstructions suggest that subduction of the Pacific-Izanagi spreading ridge and subsequent Marianas/Tonga-Kermadec subduction initiation may have been the ultimate causes of these events. Thus, these plate reconstructions solve long-standing continental fit problems and improve constraints on the motion between East and West Antarctica and global plate circuit closure.

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