Production of small volcanoes in the Superswell region of the South Pacific

Karen G. Bemis, Deborah K. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


We use Sea Beam swath bathymetry and wide beam profiler data to investigate the production of small (50-700 m high) volcanoes in the region of the Superswell [1] in French Polynesia. Seamount population parameters are estimated for three study regions. We find that seamount abundances increase threefold going southward across the Marquesas fracture zone, the inferred northern boundary of the Superswell. In addition, we document that south of the Marquesas fracture zone, seamount abundances, on average, are equally as high on young crust (0-18 My) generated at the East Pacific Rise (9°-22°) as on the adjacent Superswell region ( ∼ 20-60 My old crust). The fact that seamount abundance estimates are the same in the two regions south of the Marquesas fracture zone leads to an uncertainty in whether the seamounts have been produced by ridge or off-axis processes, and suggests the following possibilities: (1) processes at the East Pacific Rise have produced more small seamounts south of the fracture zone than to the north for the last 60 My, (2) off-axis processes (possibly related to the Superswell) have led to excess seamount volcanism on both the Superswell region and the region adjacent to the East Pacific Rise, or (3) off-axis seamount production is anomalously high on the Superswell, and the production of seamounts has increased at the East Pacific Rise since 20 My.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-262
Number of pages12
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Jul 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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