Citation: Chun-Feng Li, Jian Wang, 2018: Thermal structures of the Pacific lithosphere from magnetic anomaly inversion, Earth and Planetary Physics, 2, 52-66. doi: 10.26464/epp2018005

2018, 2(1): 52-66. doi: 10.26464/epp2018005


Thermal structures of the Pacific lithosphere from magnetic anomaly inversion


Department of Marine Sciences, Zhejiang University, Zhoushan 316021, China


Laboratory for Marine Mineral Resources, Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, Qingdao 266237, China


Key Laboratory of Crustal Dynamics, Institute of Crustal Dynamics, Chinese Earthquake Administration, Beijing 100085, China

Corresponding author: Chun-Feng Li,

Received Date: 2017-08-31
Web Publishing Date: 2018-01-01

Of the world's oceans, the Pacific has the most abundant distribution of seamount trails, oceanic plateaus and hot spots, and has the longest fracture zones. However, little is known of their thermal structures due to difficulties of heat flow measurement and interpretation, and in inferring thermal anomalies from low-resolution seismic velocities. Using recently published global magnetic models, we present the first independent constraint on Pacific geothermal state and mantle dynamics, by applying a fractal magnetization inversion model to magnetic anomaly data. Warm thermal anomalies are inferred for all known active hot spots, most seamount trails, some major fracture zones, and oceanic lithosphere between ~100 and ~140 Ma in age. While most Curie points are among the shallowest in the zone roughly bounded by the 20 Ma isochrons, abnormally deep Curie points are found along nearly all ridge crests in the Pacific, related to patchy, long-wavelength and large-amplitude magnetic anomalies that are most likely caused by prevailing magmatic or hydrothermal processes. Many large contrasts in the thermal evolution between the Pacific and North Atlantic support much stronger hydrothermal circulation occurring in Pacific lithospheres younger than ~60 Ma, which may have disguised from surface heat flow any deep thermal signatures of volcanic structures. Yet, at depths of the Curie points, our model argues for warmer Pacific lithosphere for crustal ages older than ~15 Ma, given a slightly higher spatial correlation of magnetization in the Pacific than in the North Atlantic.

Key words: Pacific; Curie depth; heat flow; seamount; oceanic plateau; magnetic anomaly

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Thermal structures of the Pacific lithosphere from magnetic anomaly inversion

Chun-Feng Li, Jian Wang