Large-Scale Motion Between Pacific and Atlantic Hotspots

Tarduno, JA, Gee J.  1995.  Large-Scale Motion Between Pacific and Atlantic Hotspots. Nature. 378:477-480.

Date Published:



field, latitudinal shift, plate, record, seamounts, sediments, true polar wander


STUDIES of true polar wander (TPW), the rotation of the solid Earth with respect to the spin axis(1), have suggested that there has been 10-15 degrees of relative motion over the past 130 Myr (refs 2-4). In such studies, the orientation of the spin axis is recovered from continental palaeomagnetic poles (corrected for relative plate motions), and compared with a deep-mantle reference frame defined by hotspot locations. But deducing relative plate motions becomes increasingly difficult for older (Mesozoic) time periods, hindering tests of TPW on timescales comparable to those of large-scale mantle convection; moreover, the assumption of hotspot fixity is controversial(5,6). We examine here a more direct approach(7,8), using palaeolatitudes derived from Pacific guyots. Contrary to predictions from TPW models, these data suggest only minor latitudinal shifts of Pacific hotspots during the Cretaceous period. Instead of TPW, relative motion between the Atlantic and Pacific hotspot groups(9) is required at a velocity of approximately 30 mm yr(-1), more than 50% larger than previously proposed(5).