Publications

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Journal Article
Sandwell, DT, McAdoo DC.  1988.  Marine Gravity of the Southern-Ocean and Antarctic Margin from Geosat. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth and Planets. 93:10389-&.   10.1029/JB093iB09p10389   AbstractWebsite

In November of 1986 the U.S. Navy satellite Geosat began collecting unclassified (gravity) altimeter data as part of its exact repeat mission (ERM). For national security reasons the Geosat orbit was arranged so that it closely follows the Seasat satellite altimeter ground track. However, there are two advantages of the Geosat data over the Seasat data. First, because of improvements in altimeter design, Geosat profiles are about 3 times more precise than Seasat profiles. This corresponds to an accuracy of 2–3 μrad (i.e., 2–3 mGal) for wavelengths greater than 20 km. Second, the Geosat altimeter data were collected when the Antarctic ice coverage was minimal (February 1987 to March 1987), while Seasat was only active during an Antarctic winter (June 1978 to September 1978). These new data reveal many previously uncharted seamounts and fracture zones in the extreme southern ocean areas adjacent to Antarctica. Seven large age-offset fracture zones, apparent in the Geosat data, record the early breakup of Gondwana. Finally, the new data reveal the detailed gravity signatures of the passive and active continental margins of Antarctica. These data are an important reconnaissance tool for future studies of these remote ocean areas.

Sandwell, DT, Sichoix L, Agnew D, Bock Y, Minster JB.  2000.  Near real-time radar interferometry of the Mw 7.1 Hector Mine Earthquake. Geophysical Research Letters. 27:3101-3104.   10.1029/1999gl011209   AbstractWebsite

The Hector Mine Earthquake (Mw 7.1, 16 October 1999) ruptured 45 km of previously mapped and unmapped faults in the Mojave Desert. The ERS-2 satellite imaged the Mojave Desert on 15 September and again on 20 October, just 4 days after the earthquake. Using a newly-developed ground station we acquired both passes and were able to form an interferogram within 20 hours of the second overflight. Estimates of slip along the main rupture are 1-2 meters greater than slip derived from geological mapping. The gradient of the interferometric phase reveals an interesting pattern of triggered slip on adjacent faults as well as a 30 mm deep sink hole along Interstate 40.

Sandwell, DT, Müller DR, Smith WHF, Garcia E, Francis R.  2014.  New global marine gravity model from CryoSat-2 and Jason-1 reveals buried tectonic structure. Science. 346:65-67.   10.1126/science.1258213   AbstractWebsite

Gravity models are powerful tools for mapping tectonic structures, especially in the deep ocean basins where the topography remains unmapped by ships or is buried by thick sediment. We combined new radar altimeter measurements from satellites CryoSat-2 and Jason-1 with existing data to construct a global marine gravity model that is two times more accurate than previous models. We found an extinct spreading ridge in the Gulf of Mexico, a major propagating rift in the South Atlantic Ocean, abyssal hill fabric on slow-spreading ridges, and thousands of previously uncharted seamounts. These discoveries allow us to understand regional tectonic processes and highlight the importance of satellite-derived gravity models as one of the primary tools for the investigation of remote ocean basins.

Matthews, KJ, Mullner RD, Sandwell DT.  2016.  Oceanic microplate formation records the onset of India-Eurasia collision. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 433:204-214.   10.1016/j.epsl.2015.10.040   AbstractWebsite

Mapping of seafloor tectonic fabric in the Indian Ocean, using high-resolution satellite-derived vertical gravity gradient data, reveals an extinct Pacific-style oceanic microplate ('Mammerickx Microplate') west of the Ninetyeast Ridge. It is one of the first Pacific-style microplates to be mapped outside the Pacific basin, suggesting that geophysical conditions during formation probably resembled those that have dominated at eastern Pacific ridges. The microplate formed at the Indian-Antarctic ridge and is bordered by an extinct ridge in the north and pseudofault in the south, whose conjugate is located north of the Kerguelen Plateau. Independent microplate rotation is indicated by asymmetric pseudofaults and rotated abyssal hill fabric, also seen in multibeam data. Magnetic anomaly picks and age estimates calculated from published spreading rates suggest formation during chron 21o (similar to 47.3 Ma). Plate reorganizations can trigger ridge propagation and microplate development, and we propose that Mammerickx Microplate formation is linked with the India-Eurasia collision (initial 'soft' collision). The collision altered the stress regime at the Indian-Antarctic ridge, leading to a change in segmentation and ridge propagation from an establishing transform. Fast Indian-Antarctic spreading that preceded microplate formation, and Kerguelen Plume activity, may have facilitated ridge propagation via the production of thin and weak lithosphere; however both factors had been present for tens of millions of years and are therefore unlikely to have triggered the event. Prior to the collision, the combination of fast spreading and plume activity was responsible for the production of a wide region of undulate seafloor to the north of the extinct ridge and 'W' shaped lineations that record back and forth ridge propagation. Microplate formation provides a precise means of dating the onset of the India-Eurasia collision, and is completely independent of and complementary to timing constraints derived from continental geology or convergence histories. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

McAdoo, DC, Sandwell DT.  1989.  On the Source of Cross-Grain Lineations in the Central Pacific Gravity-Field. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth and Planets. 94:9341-9352.   10.1029/JB094iB07p09341   AbstractWebsite

Subtle lineations in the marine gravity field of the central Pacific derived from Seasat altimeter data were observed by Haxby and Weissel (1986). They suggested that these “cross-grain” lineations were evidence of small-scale convection beneath the Pacific plate. We have examined these features by comparing multiple, collinear gravity and bathymetry profiles in the Fourier transform domain. Our nine gravity profiles were each obtained by stacking (averaging) three or more individual, repeat Geosat/ERM altimeter passes. Prior to stacking, the individual Geosat passes were fit to a cubic spline and then differentiated along track to produce along-track deflections of the vertical (or horizontal gravity). Corresponding bathymetric profiles were produced by projecting, onto Geosat ground tracks, bathymetric observations from six R/V Thomas Washington legs and three R/V Conrad legs that virtually coincide with these Geosat tracks. After Fourier transforming the resulting gravity and bathymetry profiles, we estimate admittances of gravity to bathymetry. These admittances are generally low; they also tend to be negative at very short wavelengths (λ<50 km). They are consistent with models of flexural isostatic compensation by a very thin lithosphere (approximately 2 km). They are not consistent with models of dynamic compensation. We suggest, therefore, that either (1) these cross-grain lineations began to form very near the East Pacific Rise or (2) they formed on older, anomalously weak lithosphere. We also suggest that the gravity lineations result primarily from loads beneath the seafloor in combination with, secondarily, loads on the seafloor. Depths of these subseafloor loads appear not to exceed significantly typical Moho depths.

Maia, M, Ackermand D, Dehghani GA, Gente P, Hekinian R, Naar D, O'Connor J, Perrot K, Morgan JP, Ramillien G, Revillon S, Sabetian A, Sandwell D, Stoffers P.  2000.  The Pacific-Antarctic Ridge-Foundation hotspot interaction: a case study of a ridge approaching a hotspot. Marine Geology. 167:61-84.   10.1016/s0025-3227(00)00023-2   AbstractWebsite

The Foundation hotspot-Pacific-Antarctic Ridge (PAI) system is the best documented case of a fast spreading ridge approaching a hotspot and interacting with it. The morphology, crustal structure inferred from gravity anomalies and the chemical composition of the lavas of the axial area of the PAR show evidence of the influence of the hotspot, that is presently located roughly 35 km west of the spreading ridge axis. Along-axis variation in the Mantle Bouguer anomaly is about 28 mGal, corresponding to a crustal thickening of 1.5 km where the hotspot is nearer to the PAR. Anomalous ridge elevation is 650 m and the along-axis width of the chemical anomaly is 200 km. A comparison of these axial parameters with those derived for other ridge-hotspot systems, suggests that the amount of plume material reaching the ridge axis is smaller for the Foundation-PAR system. This implies a weaker connection between the plume and the ridge. Cumulative effects of a fast spreading rate and of a fast ridge-hotspot relative motion can be responsible for this weak plume-ridge flow. The how from the hotspot may be less efficiently channelled towards the ridge axis when a fast ridge is rapidly moving towards a hotspot. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Sandwell, D, Rosen P, Moore W, Gurrola E.  2004.  Radar interferometry for measuring tidal strains across cracks on Europa. Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets. 109   10.1029/2004je002276   AbstractWebsite

A major uncertainty in understanding the interaction between the surface of Europa and its ocean below is the present-day activity of fractures. Using well-constrained models for tidal strain and a force balance in a cracked shell, we estimate the shear and normal displacement of cracks that penetrate upward from the base of the shell. If more than half of the plate is fractured, then surface displacements having amplitudes of 3 to 30 cm will be localized in a band 1 to 100 km from the crack. Plate spreading will occur if more than similar to85% of the plate is fractured. The pattern of deformation is sensitive to both the percentage of plate that is cracked and the total thickness of the shell. Repeat-pass radar interferometry could easily detect and map the activity of the cracks during a short experiment from a variety of suitable orbits with repeating ground tracks.

Xu, X, Tong X, Sandwell DT, Milliner CWD, Dolan JF, Hollingsworth J, Leprince S, Ayoub F.  2016.  Refining the shallow slip deficit. Geophysical Journal International. 204:1867-1886.   10.1093/gji/ggv563   Abstract

Geodetic slip inversions for three major (Mw > 7) strike-slip earthquakes (1992 Landers, 1999 Hector Mine and 2010 El Mayor–Cucapah) show a 15–60 per cent reduction in slip near the surface (depth < 2 km) relative to the slip at deeper depths (4–6 km). This significant difference between surface coseismic slip and slip at depth has been termed the shallow slip deficit (SSD). The large magnitude of this deficit has been an enigma since it cannot be explained by shallow creep during the interseismic period or by triggered slip from nearby earthquakes. One potential explanation for the SSD is that the previous geodetic inversions lack data coverage close to surface rupture such that the shallow portions of the slip models are poorly resolved and generally underestimated. In this study, we improve the static coseismic slip inversion for these three earthquakes, especially at shallow depths, by: (1) including data capturing the near-fault deformation from optical imagery and SAR azimuth offsets; (2) refining the interferometric synthetic aperture radar processing with non-boxcar phase filtering, model-dependent range corrections, more complete phase unwrapping by SNAPHU (Statistical Non-linear Approach for Phase Unwrapping) assuming a maximum discontinuity and an on-fault correlation mask; (3) using more detailed, geologically constrained fault geometries and (4) incorporating additional campaign global positioning system (GPS) data. The refined slip models result in much smaller SSDs of 3–19 per cent. We suspect that the remaining minor SSD for these earthquakes likely reflects a combination of our elastic model's inability to fully account for near-surface deformation, which will render our estimates of shallow slip minima, and potentially small amounts of interseismic fault creep or triggered slip, which could ‘make up’ a small percentages of the coseismic SSD during the interseismic period. Our results indicate that it is imperative that slip inversions include accurate measurements of near-fault surface deformation to reliably constrain spatial patterns of slip during major strike-slip earthquakes.

Mammerickx, J, Sandwell D.  1986.  Rifting of Old Oceanic Lithosphere. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth and Planets. 91:1975-1988.   10.1029/JB091iB02p01975   AbstractWebsite

Geophysical data from five regions in the Pacific and Indian oceans reveal that long distance (>400 km) spreading center jumps have occurred in the past. The present-day seafloor morphology is used to develop a scenario for a spreading center jump. The major events are (1) thinning and weakening of the lithosphere at the future rifting site, (2) rifting of the weakened lithosphere (during rifting, the crack is filled from above by normal faulting and wedge subsidence; viscous upwelling fills the crack from below), (3) spreading at the rift site results in a ridge bounded by two troughs (spreading ceases at the dying spreading center, resulting in a deep central graben surrounded by flexural ridges; periods of slow spreading at both spreading centers produce rough topography), (4) ageing and cooling that produce a general deepening of the abandoned spreading ridge and also reduce the thermal contrast across the fossil rifting site. The new spreading center develops into a normal spreading rift. The major topographic expressions apparent in the seafloor today are the deep trough of the abandoned spreading center and the proximal and distal troughs which formed when the emerging spreading center bisected the fossil rifting site. The proximal trough (nearer the new spreading ridge) and the distal trough (farther from the new ridge) are first-order topographic features, 100–1000 km long and 300 km wide, resembling fracture zones with which they are often confused. They share with fracture zones the characteristic of bringing together fragments of lithosphere of different ages, but unlike fracture zones they are generally parallel to magnetic lineations.

Marks, KM, Smith WHF, Sandwell DT.  2013.  Significant improvements in marine gravity from ongoing satellite missions. Marine Geophysical Research. 34:137-146.   10.1007/s11001-013-9190-8   AbstractWebsite

Incorporating new altimeter data from CryoSat-2 (30 months), Envisat (18 months), and Jason-1 (7 months) satellites into an updated marine gravity field yields significant reduction in noise and improved resolution. Compared to an older gravity field that did not include the new altimeter data, incoherent power is reduced globally by approximately 2.9 dB at 15 km, 1.6 dB at 20 km, and 1.0 dB at 25 km wavelengths. Coherence analyses between the updated gravity and recent multibeam surveys distributed throughout the world's oceans shows an average increase of similar to 0.023 in mean coherence in the 20-160 km waveband, with the biggest increase (> 0.08) over fast spreading ridges and smallest (< 0.02) over slow spreading ridges and continental shelves. The shortest wavelength at which coherence is above 0.5 decreased globally by similar to 2 km wavelength, with the biggest decrease (> 3.5 km) over fast spreading ridges and smallest (< 1.5 km) over slow spreading ridges and continental shelves. In the Clipperton fracture zone area these improvements result in seamounts that are more accurately located, the detection of smaller seamounts, and the expression of north-south trending abyssal hill fabric. As more altimeter data from the ongoing satellite missions are incorporated into future gravity field updates, finer-scale details of the seafloor will continue to emerge.

Royer, J-Y, Gahagan LM, Lawver LA, Mayes CL, Nuernberg D, Sandwell DT, Scotese CR.  1990.  A tectonic chart for the Southern Ocean derived from Geosat altimetry data. AAPG Studies in Geology. 31( St. John B, Ed.).:89-99., Tulsa, OK, United States (USA): American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Tulsa, OK AbstractWebsite

Presented is a new tectonic fabric map of the southern ocean south of 45S, derived from Geosat altimeter profiles and published bathymetric charts and magnetic anomaly picks. The interpretation of the Geosat data is based on an analysis of the first derivative of the geoid profiles (i.e., vertical deflection profiles). To improve the accuracy and resolution of the vertical deflection profiles, 22 repeat cycles from the first year of the Geosat/Exact Repeat Mission (Geosat/ERM) were averaged. At wavelengths less than about 200 km, the vertical deflection is highly correlated with sea-floor topography and thus reveals major features in areas that were previously unsurveyed. The density of the Geosat data is greatest in the high latitudes where lineated bathymetric features such as fracture zones, spreading ridges, trenches, and rifted margins stand out. To construct the tectonic fabric chart, the Geosat data are analyzed in combination with available shipboard bathymetric data and magnetic anomaly identifications. (Auth.)

Gahagan, LM, Scotese CR, Royer JY, Sandwell DT, Winn JK, Tomlins RL, Ross MI, Newman JS, Muller RD, Mayes CL, Lawver LA, Heubeck CE.  1988.  Tectonic Fabric Map of the Ocean Basins from Satellite Altimetry Data. Tectonophysics. 155:1-&.   10.1016/0040-1951(88)90258-2   AbstractWebsite

Satellite altimetry data provide a new source of information on the bathymetry of the ocean floor. The tectonic fabric of the oceans (i.e., the arrangement of fracture zones, ridges, volcanic plateaus and trenches) is revealed by changes in the horizontal gravity gradient as recorded by satellite altimetry measurements. SEASAT and GEOSAT altimetry data have been analyzed and a global map of the horizontal gravity gradient has been produced that can be used to identify a variety of marine tectonic features. The uniformity of the satellite coverage provides greater resolution and continuity than maps based solely on ship-track data. This map is also the first global map to incorporate the results of the GEOSAT mission, and as a result, new tectonic features are revealed at high southerly latitudes.This map permits the extension of many tectonic features well beyond what was previously known. For instance, various fracture zones, such as the Ascension, Tasman, and Udintsev fracture zones, can be extended much closer to adjacent coninental margins. The tectonic fabric map also reveals many features that have not been previously mapped. These features include extinct ridges, minor fracture zone lineations and seamounts. In several areas, especially across aseismic plateaus or along the margins of the continents, the map displays broad gravity anomalies whose origin may be related to basement structures.

Mayes, CL, Lawver LA, Sandwell DT.  1990.  Tectonic History and New Isochron Chart of the South-Pacific. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth and Planets. 95:8543-8567.   10.1029/JB095iB06p08543   AbstractWebsite

We have developed an internally consistent isochron chart and a tectonic history of the South Pacific using a combination of new satellite altimeter data and shipboard magnetic and bathymetric data. Highly accurate, vertical deflection profiles (1–2 μrad), derived from 22 repeat cycles of Geosat altimetry, reveal subtle lineations in the gravity field associated with the South Pacific fracture zones. These fracture zone lineations are correlated with sparse shipboard bathymetric identifications of fracture zones and thus can be used to determine paleospreading directions in uncharted areas. The high density of Geosat altimeter profiles reveals previously unknown details in paleospreading directions on all of the major plates. Magnetic anomaly identifications and magnetic lineation interpretations from published sources were combined with these fracture zone lineations to produce a tectonic fabric map. The tectonic fabric was then used to derive new poles of rotation for 12 selected times in the Late Cretaceous and Cenozoic. From our reconstructions, we estimated the former location of the spreading centers in order to derive a new set of isochrons (interpreted unes of equal age on the ocean floor). We believe that the use of new Geosat altimeter data in combination with a multi-plate reconstruction has led to an improvement in our understanding of South Pacific tectonics.