Vertical tectonics of the High Plateau region, Manihiki Plateau, Western Pacific, from seismic stratigraphy

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The Manihiki Plateau is an elevated oceanic volcanic plateau that was formed mostly in Early Cretaceous time by hotspot activity. We analyze new seismic reflection data acquired on cruise KIWI 12 over the High Plateau region in the southeast of the plateau, to look for direct evidence of the location of the heat source and the timing of uplift, subsidence and faulting. These data are correlated with previous seismic reflection lines from cruise CATO 3, and with the results at DSDP Site 317 at the northern edge of the High Plateau. Seven key reflectors are identified from the seismic reflection profiles and the resulting isopach maps show local variations in thickness in the southeastern part of the High Plateau, suggesting a subsidence (cooling) event in this region during Late Cretaceous and up to Early Eocene time. We model this as a hotspot, active and centered on the High Plateau area during Early Cretaceous time in a near-ridge environment. The basement and Early Cretaceous volcaniclastic layers were formed by subaerial and shallow-water eruption due to the volcanic activity. After that, the plateau experienced erosion. The cessation of hotspot activity and subsequent heat loss by Late Cretaceous time caused the plateau to subside rapidly. The eastern and southern portions of the High Plateau were rifted away following the cessation of hot spot activity. As the southeastern portion of the High Plateau was originally higher and above the calcium carbonate compensation depth, it accumulated more sediments than the surrounding plateau regions. Apparently coeval with the rapid subsidence of the plateau are normal faults found at the SE edge of the plateau. Since Early Eocene time, the plateau subsided to its present depth without significant deformation.

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