Open Access

Geophysical investigation of seamounts near the Ogasawara Fracture Zone, western Pacific

Earth, Planets and Space200961:BF03352914

Received: 13 October 2004

Accepted: 21 October 2008

Published: 3 March 2009


This paper provides an analysis of multi-channel seismic data obtained during 2000–2001 on seamounts near the Ogasawara Fracture Zone (OFZ) northwest of the Marshall Islands in the western Pacific. The OFZ is unique in that it is a wide rift zone that includes many seamounts. Seven units are delineated on the basis of acoustic characteristics and depth: three units (I, II, and III) on the summit of seamounts and four units (IV, V, VI, and VII) in basins. Acoustic characteristics of layers on the summit of guyots and dredged samples indicate that the seamounts had been built above sea level by volcanism. This was followed by reef growth along the summit margin, which enabled deposition of shallow-water carbonates on the summit, and finally by subsidence of the edifices. The subsidence depth of the seamounts, estimated from the lower boundary of unit II, ranges between 1,550 and 2,040 m. The thick unit I of the southern seamounts is correlated with proximity to the equatorial high productivity zone, whereas local currents may have strongly affected the distribution of unit I on northern seamounts. A seismic profile in the basin around the Ita Mai Tai and OSM4 seamounts shows an unconformity between units IV and V, which is widespread from the East Mariana Basin to the Pigafetta Basin.

Key words

Ogasawara Fracture Zone acoustic characteristics subsidence depth unconformity