Publications

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2009
Sandwell, DT, Smith WHF.  2009.  Global marine gravity from retracked Geosat and ERS-1 altimetry: Ridge segmentation versus spreading rate. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 114   10.1029/2008jb006008   AbstractWebsite

Three approaches are used to reduce the error in the satellite-derived marine gravity anomalies. First, we have retracked the raw waveforms from the ERS-1 and Geosat/GM missions resulting in improvements in range precision of 40% and 27%, respectively. Second, we have used the recently published EGM2008 global gravity model as a reference field to provide a seamless gravity transition from land to ocean. Third, we have used a biharmonic spline interpolation method to construct residual vertical deflection grids. Comparisons between shipboard gravity and the global gravity grid show errors ranging from 2.0 mGal in the Gulf of Mexico to 4.0 mGal in areas with rugged seafloor topography. The largest errors of up to 20 mGal occur on the crests of narrow large seamounts. The global spreading ridges are well resolved and show variations in ridge axis morphology and segmentation with spreading rate. For rates less than about 60 mm/a the typical ridge segment is 50-80 km long while it increases dramatically at higher rates (100-1000 km). This transition spreading rate of 60 mm/a also marks the transition from axial valley to axial high. We speculate that a single mechanism controls both transitions; candidates include both lithospheric and asthenospheric processes.

2000
Lyons, SN, Sandwell DT, Smith WHF.  2000.  Three-dimensional estimation of elastic thickness under the Louisville Ridge. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 105:13239-13252.   10.1029/2000jb900065   AbstractWebsite

A three-dimensional approach to estimating elastic thickness is presented which uses dense satellite altimetry and sparse ship bathymetry. This technique is applied to the Louisville Ridge system to study the tectonic history of the region. The inversion is performed as both a first-order approximation and a nonlinear relationship between gravity and topography based on Parker's [1973] equation. While the higher-order effect on the gravity anomaly is nearly zero for most of the region, the magnitude is significant over the summits of the ridge. Nevertheless, the inclusion of the nonlinear terms has only a minor influence on the elastic thickness estimate within each region, lowering the value by similar to 1-2 km compared with the linear result. The incorrect assumption of two dimensionality for circular features exhibits a marked effect on the gravitational anomaly, resulting in false sidelobe structure of nearly 20 mGal for large seamounts. Our elastic thickness estimates are compared with the contradictory values obtained in previous studies by Cazenave and Dominh [1984] and Watts et al. [1988]. We find an increasing elastic thickness along the chain from southeast to northwest, with a discontinuity along the Wishbone scarp. The jump in elastic thickness values northwest of the scarp appears to be an indication of an age discontinuity caused by an extinct spreading center north of the ridge.

1997
Smith, WHF, Sandwell DT.  1997.  Global sea floor topography from satellite altimetry and ship depth soundings. Science. 277:1956-1962.   10.1126/science.277.5334.1956   AbstractWebsite

A digital bathymetric map of the oceans with a horizontal resolution of 1 to 12 kilometers was derived by combining available depth soundings with high-resolution marine gravity information from the Geosat and ERS-1 spacecraft. Previous global bathymetric maps lacked features such as the 1600-kilometer-long Foundation Seamounts chain in the South Pacific. This map shows relations among the distributions of depth, sea floor area, and sea floor age that do not fit the predictions of deterministic models of subsidence due to lithosphere cooling but may be explained by a stochastic model in which randomly distributed reheating events warm the lithosphere and raise the ocean floor.