Heat-Flow Observations on the Bermuda Rise and Thermal Models of Midplate Swells

Detrick, RS, Von Herzen RP, Parsons B, Sandwell D, Dougherty M.  1986.  Heat-Flow Observations on the Bermuda Rise and Thermal Models of Midplate Swells. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth and Planets. 91:3701-3723.

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The Bermuda Rise is a broad topographic swell which is apparent in both residual depth and geoid anomaly maps of the western North Atlantic. The magnitudes of the depth and geoid anomalies associated with the Bermuda Rise are similar to the anomalies associated with other swells surrounding recent volcanic islands (e.g., Hawaii), suggesting that despite the lack of recent volcanism on Bermuda, the rise has a similar origin to other midplate swells. Results are reported from 171 new heat flow measurements at seven carefully selected sites on the Bermuda Rise and the surrounding seafloor. Off the Bermuda Rise the basement depths are generally shallower and the heat flow higher than either the plate or boundary layer models predict, with the measured heat flow apparently reaching a uniform value of about 50 mW m−2 on 120 m.y. old crust. On the Bermuda Rise the heat flow is significantly higher (57.4±2.6 mW m−2) than off the swell (49.5±1.7 mW m−2). The magnitude of the anomalous heat flux (8–10 mW m−2) is comparable to that previously found along the older portion of the Hawaiian Swell near Midway. The existence of higher heat flow on both the Hawaiian Swell and Bermuda Rise indicates that these features fundamentally have a thermal origin. The differences in the shape, uplift, and subsidence histories of the Hawaiian Swell and Bermuda Rise can be quantitatively explained by the different absolute velocities of the Pacific and North American plates moving across a distributed heat source in the underlying mantle. Two-dimensional numerical convection models indicate that the observed depth, geoid, and heat flow anomalies are consistent with simple convection models in which the lower part of the thermally defined plate acts as the upper thermal boundary layer of the convection.