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Watts, AB, Sandwell DT, Smith WHF, Wessel P.  2006.  Global gravity, bathymetry, and the distribution of submarine volcanism through space and time. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 111   10.1029/2005jb004083   AbstractWebsite

[ 1] The seafloor is characterized by numerous seamounts and oceanic islands which are mainly volcanic in origin. Relatively few of these features (< similar to 0.1%), however, have been dated, and so little is known about their tectonic setting. One parameter that is sensitive to whether a seamount formed on, near, or far from a mid-ocean ridge is the elastic thickness, T(e), which is a proxy for the long-term strength of the lithosphere. Most previous studies are based on using the bathymetry to calculate the gravity anomaly for different values of T(e) and then comparing the calculated and observed gravity anomaly. The problem with such an approach is that bathymetry data are usually limited to single-beam echo sounder data acquired along a ship track and these data are too sparse to define seamount shape. We therefore use the satellite-derived gravity anomaly to predict the bathymetry for different values of T(e). By comparing the predicted bathymetry to actual shipboard soundings in the vicinity of each locality in the Wessel global seamount database, we have obtained 9758 T(e) estimates from a wide range of submarine volcanic features in the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic oceans. Comparisons where there are previous estimates show that bathymetric prediction is a robust way to estimate T(e) and its upper and lower bounds. T(e) at sites where there is both a sample and crustal age show considerable scatter, however, and there is no simple relationship between T(e) and age. Nevertheless, we are able to tentatively assign a tectonic setting to each T(e) estimate. The most striking results are in the Pacific Ocean where a broad swath of "on-ridge'' volcanism extends from the Foundation seamounts and Ducie Island/Easter Island ridge in the southeast, across the equator, to the Shatsky and Hess rises in the northwest. Interspersed among the on-ridge volcanism are "flank ridge'' and "off-ridge'' features. The Indian and Atlantic oceans also show a mix of tectonic settings. Off-ridge volcanism dominates in the eastern North Atlantic and northeast Indian oceans, while flank ridge volcanism dominates the northeastern Indian and western south Atlantic oceans. We have been unable to assign the flank ridge and off-ridge estimates an age, but the on-ridge estimates generally reflect, we believe, the age of the underlying oceanic crust. We estimate the volume of on-ridge volcanism to be similar to 1.1 x 10(6) km(3) which implies a mean seamount addition rate of similar to 0.007 km(3) yr(-1). Rates appear to have varied through geological time, reaching their peak during the Late/Early Cretaceous and then declining to the present-day.

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.

Smith, WHF, Sandwell DT.  1994.  Bathymetric Prediction from Dense Satellite Altimetry and Sparse Shipboard Bathymetry. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 99:21803-21824.   10.1029/94jb00988   AbstractWebsite

The southern oceans (south of 30 degrees S) are densely covered with satellite-derived gravity data (track spacing 2-4 km) and sparsely covered with shipboard depth soundings (hundreds of kilometers between tracks in some areas). Flexural isostatic compensation theory suggests that bathymetry and downward continued gravity data may show linear correlation in a band of wavelengths 15-160 km, if sediment cover is thin and seafloor relief is moderate. At shorter wavelengths, the gravity field is insensitive to seafloor topography because of upward continuation from the seafloor to the sea surface; at longer wavelengths, isostatic compensation cancels out most of the gravity field due to the seafloor topography. We combine this theory with Wiener optimization theory and empirical evidence for gravity noise-to-signal ratios to design low-pass and band-pass filters to use in predicting bathymetry from gravity. The prediction combines long wavelengths (> 160 km) from low-pass-filtered soundings with an intermediate-wavelength solution obtained from multiplying downward continued, band-pass filtered (15-160 km) gravity data by a scaling factor S. S is empirically determined from the correlation between gravity data and existing soundings in the 15-160 km band by robust regression and varies at long wavelengths. We find that areas with less than 200 m of sediment cover show correlation between gravity and bathymetry significant at the 99% level, and S may be related to the density of seafloor materials in these areas. The prediction has a horizontal resolution limit of 5-10 km in position and is within 100 m of actual soundings at 50% of grid points and within 240 m at 80% of these. In areas of very rugged topography the prediction underestimates the peak amplitudes of seafloor features. Images of the prediction reveal many tectonic features not seen on any existing bathymetric charts. Because the prediction relies on the gravity field at wavelengths < 160 km, it is insensitive to errors in the navigation of sounding lines but also cannot completely reproduce them. Therefore it may be used to locate tectonic features but should not be used to assess hazards to navigation. The prediction is available from the National Geophysical Data Center in both digital and printed form.

Sandwell, DT.  1992.  Antarctic Marine Gravity-Field from High-Density Satellite Altimetry. Geophysical Journal International. 109:437-448.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.1992.tb00106.x   AbstractWebsite

Closely spaced satellite altimeter profiles (< 5 km) collected during the Geosat Geodetic Mission (Geosat/GM), and those planned for the extended ERS-1 mission, are easily converted to grids of vertical gravity gradient and gravity anomaly. As profile spacing decreases, it becomes increasingly difficult to perform a crossover adjustment on the original geoid height profiles without introducing large cross-track gradients. If one is only interested in the horizontal and vertical derivatives of the gravitational potential, however, adjustment of the profile is unnecessary. The long-wavelength radial orbit error is suppressed well below the noise level of the altimeter by simply taking the along-track derivative of each profile. Ascending and descending slope profiles are then interpolated onto separate uniform grids. These two grids are summed and differenced to form comparable grids of east and north vertical deflection. Using Laplace's equation, the vertical gravity gradient is calculated directly from the vertical deflection grids. Fourier analysis is required to construct gravity anomalies from the two vertical deflection grids. These techniques are applied to high-density (approximately 2 km profile spacing) Geosat/GM profiles in Antarctic waters (60-degrees-S to 72-degrees-S). Gridding and interpolation are performed using the method of projection onto convex sets where the smoothness criteria corresponds to upward continuation through 4 km of ocean. The resultant gravity grids have resolution and accuracy comparable to shipboard gravity profiles. After adjustment of a DC shift in the shipboard gravity profiles (approximately 5 mGal) the rms difference between the ship and satellite gravity is 5.5 mGal. Many interesting and previously uncharted features are apparent in these new gravity maps including a propagating rift wake and a large 'leaky transform' along the Pacific-Antarctic Rise.