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Sandwell, D, Fialko Y.  2004.  Warping and cracking of the Pacific plate by thermal contraction. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 109   10.1029/2004jb003091   AbstractWebsite

Lineaments in the gravity field and associated chains of volcanic ridges are widespread on the Pacific plate but are not yet explained by plate tectonics. Recent studies have proposed that they are warps and cracks in the plate caused by uneven thermal contraction of the cooling lithosphere. We show that the large thermoelastic stress produced by top-down cooling is optimally released by lithospheric flexure between regularly spaced parallel cracks. Both the crack spacing and approximate gravity amplitude are predicted by elastic plate theory and variational principle. Cracks along the troughs of the gravity lineaments provide conduits for the generation of volcanic ridges in agreement with new observations from satellite-derived gravity. Our model suggests that gravity lineaments are a natural consequence of lithospheric cooling so that convective rolls or mantle plumes are not required.

Fialko, YA, Rubin AM.  1999.  What controls the along-strike slopes of volcanic rift zones? Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 104:20007-20020.   10.1029/1999jb900143   AbstractWebsite

We investigate the dynamics of viscous pressure losses associated with lateral magma transport in volcanic rift zones by performing (I) coupled elastic-hydrodynamic simulations of downrift magma flow in dikes and (2) analog experiments mimicking lateral dike propagation in the presence of an along-rift topographic slope. It is found that near-source eruptions are likely to be favored by shallow slopes while distant downrift eruptions may be encouraged by steeper slopes, provided that along-rift variations in the tectonic stress are negligible or uncorrelated on the timescale of multiple dike intrusions. This implies the existence of a critical slope to which a volcanic rift zone would naturally evolve. Such behavior is produced by three-dimensional (3-D) elastic effects and is controlled by the ratio of the driving pressure gradient due to the along-strike topographic slope to the vertical gradient in the excess magma pressure in the dike. This model may be viewed as complementary to commonly cited mechanisms that appeal to magma viscosity and the dynamics of freezing of lava flows at the surface to explain the low profiles of basaltic shield volcanoes. Our estimated values of the critical slopes are in general agreement with observations in Hawaiian rift zones, but further development of fully 3-D models is required for more accurate predictions.

Khazan, Y, Fialko Y.  2005.  Why do kimberlites from different provinces have similar trace element patterns? Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 6   10.1029/2005gc000919   AbstractWebsite

Analysis of the trace element contents in kimberlites from various provinces around the world, including South Africa, India, and Yakutia ( Siberia, Russia), reveals remarkable similarity of the maximum abundances. In addition, we find that abundances of the rare earth elements ( REE) in the South African kimberlites are highly coherent between individual elements. We suggest that the observed similarity of the trace element patterns may result from a common physicochemical process operating in the kimberlite source region, rather than from peculiar source compositions and magmatic histories. The most likely candidates for such a process are ( 1) partial melting at very low melting degrees and ( 2) porous melt flow and diffusive exchange with the host rocks. These two processes can produce the same maximum trace element abundances and similar undersaturated patterns. We argue that the porous flow, and the associated chromatographic enrichment, is preferred because it allows high saturations at relatively large melt fractions of similar to 1%. Observations of enrichment of the xenolith grain rims due to an exchange with metasomatizing melts of quasi- kimberlitic composition imply that the melt percolated beyond the source region, in agreement with basic assumptions of the percolation model. We demonstrate that the saturated REE patterns are in a good agreement with the maximum observed REE abundances in kimberlites from different provinces. The theoretical patterns are independent of the melt fraction and only weakly ( if at all) depend on the source modal composition. Characteristic diverging fan- like patterns of trace elements predicted by the percolation model are identified in kimberlites from South Africa. We propose that a high coherency of the REE patterns in the South African kimberlites results from a general dependence of all REE abundances on the calcium content. According to this interpretation, the overall depletion of the source rocks in REE with temperature ( and depth) postulated by our model is a natural consequence of a decrease in the calcium content along the lherzolite trend.