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Crustal motion studies in the Southwest Pacific: geodetic measurements of plate convergence in Tonga, Vanuatu and the Soloman Islands

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Item Summary

Title: Crustal motion studies in the Southwest Pacific: geodetic measurements of plate convergence in Tonga, Vanuatu and the Soloman Islands
Authors: Phillips, David A.
Advisor: Bevis, Michael G
Issue Date: Dec 2003
Publisher: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract: The southwest Pacific is one of the most tectonically dynamic regions on Earth. This research focused on crustal motion studies in three regions of active Pacific-Australia plate convergence in the southwest Pacific: Tonga, the New Hebrides (Vanuatu) and the Solomons Islands. In Tonga, new and refined velocity estimates based on more than a decade of Global Positioning System (GPS) measurements and advanced analysis techniques are much more accurate than previously reported values. Convergence rates of 80 to 165 mm/yr at the Tonga trench represent the fastest plate motions observed on Earth. For the first time, rotation of the Fiji platform relative to the Australian plate is observed, and anomalous deformation of the Tonga ridge was also detected. In the New Hebrides, a combined GPS dataset with a total time series of more than ten years led to new and refined velocity estimates throughout the island arc. Impingement of large bathymetric features has led to arc fragmentation, and four distinct tectonic segments are identified. The central New Hebrides arc segment is being shoved eastward relative to the rest of the arc as convergence is partitioned between the forearc (Australian plate) and the backarc (North Fiji Basin) boundaries due to impingement of the d'Entrecasteaux Ridge and associated Bougainville seamount. The southern New Hebrides arc converges with the Australian plate more rapidly than predicted due to backarc extension. The first measurements of convergence in the northern and southernmost arc segments were also made. In the Solomon Islands, a four-year GPS time series was used to generate the first geodetic estimates of crustal velocity in the New Georgia Group, with 57-84 mm/yr of Australia-Solomon motion and 19-39 mm/yr of Pacific-Solomon motion being observed. These velocities are 20-40% lower than predicted Australia-Pacific velocities. Two-dimensional dislocation models suggest that most of this discrepancy can be attributed to locking of the San Cristobal trench and elastic strain accumulation in the forearc. Anomalous motion at Simbo island is also observed.
Description: xv, 135 leaves
Rights: All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - Geology and Geophysics

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