Rayleigh-wave tomography of the Ontong-Java Plateau

W. Philip Richardson, Emile A. Okal*, Suzan Van Der Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


The deep structure of the Ontong-Java Plateau (OJP) in the westcentral Pacific is investigated through a 2-year deployment of four PASSCAL seismic stations used in a passive tomographic experiment. Single-path inversions of 230 Rayleigh waveforms from 140 earthquakes mainly located in the Solomon Trench confirm the presence of an extremely thick crust, with an average depth to the Mohorovicic discontinuity of 33 km. The thickest crusts (38 km) are found in the southcentral part of the plateau, around 2°S, 157°E. Lesser values remaining much thicker than average oceanic crust (15-26 km) are found on either side of the main structure, suggesting that the OJP spills over into the Lyra Basin to the west. Such thick crustal structures are consistent with formation of the plateau at the Pacific-Phoenix ridge at 121 Ma, while its easternmost part may have formed later (90 Ma) on more mature lithosphere. Single-path inversions also reveal a strongly developed low-velocity zone at asthenospheric depths in the mantle. A three-dimensional tomographic inversion resolves a low-velocity root of the OJP extending as deep as 300 km, with shear velocity deficiencies of ~5%, suggesting the presence of a keel, dragged along with the plateau as the latter moves as part of the drift of the Pacific plate over the mantle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-51
Number of pages23
JournalPhysics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Feb 2000


  • Ontong-Java Plateau
  • Rayleigh waveform
  • Solomon Trench

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Rayleigh-wave tomography of the Ontong-Java Plateau'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this