The Bent Hawaiian-Emperor Hotspot Track: Inheriting the Mantle Wind

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Science  03 Apr 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5923, pp. 50-53
DOI: 10.1126/science.1161256

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Bends in volcanic hotspot lineaments, best represented by the large elbow in the Hawaiian-Emperor chain, were thought to directly record changes in plate motion. Several lines of geophysical inquiry now suggest that a change in the locus of upwelling in the mantle induced by mantle dynamics causes bends in hotspot tracks. Inverse modeling suggests that although deep flow near the core-mantle boundary may have played a role in the Hawaiian-Emperor bend, capture of a plume by a ridge, followed by changes in sub-Pacific mantle flow, can better explain the observations. Thus, hotspot tracks can reveal patterns of past mantle circulation.

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