Research Articles

Geophysics of the Pitman Fracture Zone and Pacific-Antarctic Plate Motions During the Cenozoic

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Science  10 Nov 1995:
Vol. 270, Issue 5238, pp. 947-953
DOI: 10.1126/science.270.5238.947


Multibeam bathymetry and magnetometer data from the Pitman fracture zone (FZ) permit construction of a plate motion history for the South Pacific over the past 65 million years. Reconstructions show that motion between the Antarctic and Bellingshausen plates was smaller than previously hypothesized and ended earlier, at chron C27 (61 million years ago). The fixed hot-spot hypothesis and published paleomagnetic data require additional motion elsewhere during the early Tertiary, either between East Antarctica and West Antarctica or between the North and South Pacific. A plate reorganization at chron C27 initiated the Pitman FZ and may have been responsible for the other right-stepping fracture zones along the ridge. An abrupt (8°) clockwise rotation in the abyssal hill fabric along the Pitman flowline near the young end of chron C3a (5.9 million years ago) dates the major change in Pacific-Antarctic relative motion in the late Neogene.

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