Orthogonal intersections of megatrends in the Western Pacific ocean basin: a case study of the Mid-Pacific mountains
Present-day tectonic concepts of events on the western paleo-Pacific lithosphere must be assessed relative to new data. Data collected by the newer techniques of geophysical surveying reveal leaky fracture zones, trending NNW-SSE and WSW-ENE; non-sequential in-line ages on most seamount chains; and orthogonal intersections of fracture zones. The fracture zones meander, braid, merge, splay, start and stop at any place, and are generally aligned with, or contain, linear chains of seamount. The combination of these in-line features is called megatrends. When the GEOSAT data are compared to the available bathymetry, this seemingly jumbled tectonic structure is verified. As the pole of rotation changes, the stress field changes alignment to agree with the Chandler wobble of Earth. Younger megatrends, propagating ever eastward, cross the older, already imprinted megatrends. During the Cretaceous, the voluminous outpouring of igneous rock created the large Pacific plateaus and rises where the megatrends, active and inactive, orthogonally intersected. The magma floods at the intersections flowed outwardly, and the outward flooding accounts for the fanning magnetic lineations around the Manihiki, Magellan, Shatskiy, and Hess rises. A case study of the Mid-Pacific Mountains (MPM), lying in the north-central Pacific Ocean basin, shows that the MPM formed about 125-110-Ma by overprinting the orthogonal intersections of fracture zones at the Molokai and Easter/Krusenstern-Emperor megatrends and the Murray and Tubai/Mamua megatrends. The MPM have been undergoing distortion into a vortex structure, a feature which has been confirmed by updated bathymetry, GEOSAT altimetry data, and drillsite information.