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Elastic flexure controls magma trajectories and explains the offset of primary volcanic activity upstream of mantle plume axis at la Réunion and Hawaii hotspot islands

Gerbault, Muriel and Fontaine, Fabrice J. and Rabinowicz, Michel and Bystricky, Misha Elastic flexure controls magma trajectories and explains the offset of primary volcanic activity upstream of mantle plume axis at la Réunion and Hawaii hotspot islands. (2017) Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 462. 142-156. ISSN 0012-821X

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2017.01.013


Surface volcanism at la Réunion and Hawaii occurs with an offset of 150–180 km upstream to the plume axis with respect to the plate motion. This striking observation raises questions about the forcing of plume-lithosphere thermo-mechanical interactions on melt trajectories beneath these islands. Based on visco-elasto-plastic numerical models handled at kilometric resolution, we propose to explain this offset by the development of compressional stresses at the base of the lithosphere, that result from elastic plate bending above the upward load exerted by the plume head. This horizontal compression adopts a disc shape centered around the plume axis: (i) it is 20 km thick, (ii) it has a 150 km radius, (iii) it lays at the base of the elastic part of the lithosphere, i.e., around ∼50–70 km depth where the temperature varies from ∼600 °C to ∼750 °C, (iv) it lasts for 5 to 10 My in an oceanic plate of age greater than 70 My, and (vi) it is controlled by the visco-elastic relaxation time at ∼50–70 km depth. This period of time exceeds the time during which both the Somalian/East-African and Pacific plates drift over the Reunion and Hawaii plumes, respectively. This indicates that this basal compression is actually a persistent feature. It is inferred that the buoyant melts percolating in the plume head pond below this zone of compression and eventually spread laterally until the most compressive principal elastic stresses reverse to the vertical, i.e., ∼150 km away from the plume head. There, melts propagate through dikes upwards to ∼35 km depth, where the plate curvature reverses and ambient compression diminishes. This 30–35 km depth may thus host a magmatic reservoir where melts transported by dykes pond. Only after further magmatic differentiation can dykes resume their ascension up to the surface and begin forming a volcanic edifice. As the volcano grows because of melt accumulation at the top of the plate, the lithosphere is flexed downwards, inducing extra tensile stress at 30–35 km depth and compression at ∼15 km depth (induced by the edifice load). It implies that now the melts pond at ∼15 km and form another magmatic reservoir lying just underneath the crust. These processes explain the ponding of primary (shield) melts at ∼35 km and ∼15 km depths as recorded below La Reunion, Mauritius or Hawaii volcanoes, all shifted by ∼150 km with respect to the plume axis.

Item Type:Article
Audience (journal):International peer-reviewed journal
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Institution:French research institutions > Centre National d'Études Spatiales - CNES (FRANCE)
French research institutions > Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - CNRS (FRANCE)
Other partners > Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris - IPGP (FRANCE)
French research institutions > Institut de Recherche pour le Développement - IRD (FRANCE)
Université de Toulouse > Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier - UT3 (FRANCE)
Other partners > Université de Paris - U-Paris (FRANCE)
Laboratory name:
Deposited On:29 Mar 2021 10:22

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