Rapid Formation of Ontong Java Plateau by Aptian Mantle Plume Volcanism

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Science  18 Oct 1991:
Vol. 254, Issue 5030, pp. 399-403
DOI: 10.1126/science.254.5030.399


The timing of flood basalt volcanism associated with formation of the Ontong Java Plateau (OJP) is estimated from paleomagnetic and paleontologic data. Much of OJP formed rapidly in less than 3 million years during the early Aptian, at the beginning of the Cretaceous Normal Polarity Superchron. Crustal emplacement rates are inferred to have been several times those of the Deccan Traps. These estimates are consistent with an origin of the OJP by impingement at the base of the oceanic lithosphere by the head of a large mantle plume. Formation of the OJP may have led to a rise in sea level that induced global oceanic anoxia. Carbon dioxide emissions likely contributed to the mid-Cretaceous greenhouse climate but did not provoke major biologic extinctions.