Space geodesy data are used to verify whether plates move chaotically or rather follow a sort of tectonic mainstream. While independent lines of geological evidence support the existence of a global ordered flow of plate motions that is westerly polarized, the Terrestrial Reference Frame (TRF) presents limitations in describing absolute plate motions relative to the mantle. For these reasons we jointly estimated a new plate motions model and three different solutions of net lithospheric rotation. Considering the six major plate boundaries and variable source depths of the main Pacific hotspots, we adapted the TRF plate kinematics by global space geodesy to absolute plate motions models with respect to the mantle. All three reconstructions confirm (i) the tectonic mainstream and (ii) the net rotation of the lithosphere. We still do not know the precise trend of this tectonic flow and the velocity of the differential rotation. However, our results show that assuming faster Pacific motions, as the asthenospheric source of the hotspots would allow, the best lithospheric net rotation estimate is 13.4 +/- 0.7 cm yr(-1). This superfast solution seems in contradiction with present knowledge on the lithosphere decoupling, but it matches remarkably better with the geological constraints than those retrieved with slower Pacific motion and net rotation estimates. Assuming faster Pacific motion, it is shown that all plates move orderly 'westward' along the tectonic mainstream at different velocities and the equator of the lithospheric net rotation lies inside the corresponding tectonic mainstream latitude band (approximate to +/- 7 degrees), defined by the 1 sigma confidence intervals.
|Titolo:||Space geodesy validation of the global lithospheric flow|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2007|
|Appartiene alla tipologia:||01a Articolo in rivista|