Bowers Swell is a newly discovered bathymetric feature which is up to 90 m high, between 12 and 20 km wide, and which extends arcuately about 400 km along the northern and eastern sides of Bowers Ridge. The swell was first revealed on GLORIA sonographs and subsequently mapped on seismic reflection and 3.5 kHz bathymetric profiles. These geophysical data show that the swell caps an arcuate anticlinal ridge, which is composed of deformed strata in an ancient trench on the northern and eastern sides of Bowers Ridge. The trench fill beneath the swell is actively deforming, as shown by faulting of the sea floor and by thinning of the strata across the crest of the swell. Thinning and faulting of the trench strata preclude an origin for the swell by simple sediment draping over an older basement high. We considered several models for the origin of Bowers Swell, including folding and uplift of the underlying trench sediment during the interaction between the Pacific plate beneath the Aleutian Ridge and a remnant oceanic slab beneath Bowers Ridge. However, such plate motions should generate extensive seismicity beneath Bowers Ridge, which is aseismic, and refraction data do not show any remnant slab beneath Bowers Ridge. Another origin considered for Bowers Swell invokes sediment deformation resulting from differential loading and diapirism in the trench fill. However, diapirism is not evident on seismic reflection profiles across the swell. We favour a model in which sediment deformation and swell formation resulted from a few tens of kilometers of low seismicity motion by intraplate crustal blocks beneath the Aleutian Basin. This motion may result from the translation of blocks in western Alaska to the south-west, forcing the movement of the Bering Sea margin west of Alaska into the abyssal Aleutian Basin. ?? 1990.
Additional publication details
Bowers Swell: Evidence for a zone of compressive deformation concentric with Bowers Ridge, Bering Sea