On the Beagle voyage, Charles Darwin first noted the creation and subsidence of ocean islands, establishing in geology's infancy that island freeboard changes with time. Hotspot ocean islands have an obvious mechanism for freeboard change through the growth of the bathymetric anomaly, or swell, on which the islands rest. Models for swell development indicate that flexural, thermal or dynamic pressure contributions, as well as spreading of melt residue from the hotspot, can all contribute to island uplift. Here we test various models for swell development using the uplift histories for the islands of the Cape Verde hotspot, derived from isotopic dating of marine terraces and subaerial to submarine lava-flow morphologies. The island uplift histories, in conjunction with inter-island spacing, uplift rate and timing differences, rule out flexural, thermal or dynamic pressure contributions. We also find that uplift cannot be reconciled with models that advocate the spreading of melt residue in swell development unless swell growth is episodic. Instead, we infer from the uplift histories that two processes have acted to raise the islands during the past 6 Myr. During an initial phase, mantle processes acted to build the swell. Subsequently, magmatic intrusions at the island edifice caused 350 m of local uplift at the scale of individual islands. Finally, swell-wide uplift contributed a further 100 m of surface rise.
Additional Publication Details
Episodic swell growth inferred from variable uplift of the Cape Verde hotspot islands
Nature Publishing Group
Hamps, United Kingdom
Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center