Evidence for a rheologically strong chemical mantle root beneath the Ontong-Java Plateau

E. R. Klosko, R. M. Russo*, E. A. Okal, W. P. Richardson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Shear wave splitting measurements, in conjunction with studies of shear wave velocity structure, indicate that the Ontong-Java Plateau (OJP) large igneous province (LIP) has a thick, compositionally distinct root that diverts asthenospheric mantle flow beneath the Pacific plate. The OJP, the largest of Earth's LIPs, stands 2 km above adjacent Pacific abyssal plains and is composed of mantle plume derived volcanics erupted at 122 and 90 Ma. Surface wave tomography of the Plateau reveals a seismically slow upper mantle root that extends approximately to 300 km depth. The thickness and juxtaposition of the Plateau and the mantle root imply that the OJP is the preserved 'head' of a rising mantle plume formed in situ when the LIP erupted. Thus, it is a far-traveled body currently moving northwestwards with the Pacific plate. Shear wave splitting at four seismic stations along the northern margin of the OJP varies systematically: The fast axis of seismic anisotropy at three stations on the NE OJP margin trend NW, parallel to hotspot-defined Pacific absolute plate motion; at a fourth station, on the NW margin of the Plateau, the fast shear wave trend is NE. Upper mantle flow directions delineated by the shear wave splitting could thus represent mantle flow diverted around the leading, northwestern face of the rheologically strong, chemically distinct OJP root. In sum, the Plateau and its deep root appear to be similar to continental tectosphere, except for contrasting seismic velocities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-361
Number of pages15
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2001


  • Asthenosphere
  • Large igneous provinces
  • Lithosphere
  • Mantle flow
  • Mantle plumes
  • Ontong-Java Plateau
  • S-waves
  • Tectonosphere
  • Tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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