Hotspots that form above upwelling plumes of hot material from the deep mantle typically leave narrow trails of volcanic seamounts as a tectonic plate moves over their location. These seamount trails are excellent recorders of Earth's deep processes and allow us to untangle ancient mantle plume motions. During ascent it is likely that mantle plumes are pushed away from their vertical upwelling trajectories by mantle convection forces. It has been proposed that a large-scale lateral displacement, termed the mantle wind, existed in the Pacific between about 80 and 50 million years ago, and shifted the Hawaiian mantle plume southwards by about 15° of latitude. Here we use 40 Ar/ 39 Ar age dating and palaeomagnetic inclination data from four seamounts associated with the Louisville hotspot in the South Pacific Ocean to show that this hotspot has been relatively stable in terms of its location. Specifically, the Louisville hotspot - the southern hemisphere counterpart of Hawai'i - has remained within 3-5° of its present-day latitude of about 51° €‰S between 70 and 50 million years ago. Although we cannot exclude a more significant southward motion before that time, we suggest that the Louisville and Hawaiian hotspots are moving independently, and not as part of a large-scale mantle wind in the Pacific.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)