Latin American Journal of Aquatic Research, 42 (4) October 2014 (SPECIAL ISSUE)
Origin of the Easter Submarine Alignment: morphology and structural lineaments.
The Easter submarine alignment corresponds to a sequence of seamounts and oceanic islands which runs from the Ahu-Umu volcanic fields in the west to its intersection with the Nazca Ridge in the east, with a total length of about 2.900 km and a strike of N85°E. Recent bathymetric compilations that include combined satellite derived and shipboard data (Global Topography) and multibeam bathymetric data (from NGDC-NOAA) are interpreted both qualitatively and quantitatively by using a morphological analysis, which was comprised of the determination of bathymetric patterns, trends in lineations and structures; height measurements, computation of basal areas and volumes of seamounts, in order to establish clues on the origin of this seamount chain and to establish relationships with the regional tectonics. In the study region 514 seamounts were counted, of which 334 had a basal area less than the reference seamount (Moai). In general, the largest seamounts (>1000 m in height) tend to align and to have a larger volume, with an elongation of their bases along the seamount chain. On the other hand, smaller seamounts tend to be distributed more randomly with more circular bases. As a consequence of the morphological analysis, the best possible mechanism that explains the origin of the seamount chain is the existence of a localized hotspot to the west of the Salas y Gómez Island. The corresponding plume would contribute additional magmatic material towards the East Pacific Rise through canalizations, whose secondary branches would feed intermediate volcanoes. It is possible that within the Easter Island region there would be another minor contribution through fractures in the crust, due to the crustal weakening that was produced by the Easter Fracture Zone.
Author: Cristián Rodrigo, Juan Díaz & Antonio González-Fernández

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