EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Asthenosphere viscosity in the Caribbean region constrained by gravity anomalies, seismic structure and regional magmatism

Yi-Wei Chen1, Lorenzo Colli1, Dale E. Bird1, Jonny Wu1, and Hejun Zhu2
Yi-Wei Chen et al.
  • 1Dept. of Earth and Atmospheric Science, University of Houston, United States of America
  • 2Dept. of Geoscience, University of Texas at Dallas, United States of America

The Caribbean region has been proposed as a candidate for outflow of asthenospheric mantle, from a shrinking Pacific region to an expanding Atlantic region. If this flow exists it should be associated to a dynamic topography gradient across the region. Estimating dynamic topography requires constraining the thicknesses and densities of sediment, crust and lithosphere to remove their isostatic response from the total topography. Dynamic topography has been studied globally in areas of ‘normal’ oceanic lithosphere but the Caribbean region, characterized by overthickened oceanic lithosphere, has not been fully analyzed due to the challenges of estimating crustal thicknesses.

Thanks to the wealth of seismic reflection, as well as borehole data, the basement relief and bulk sediment density in the Caribbean are well constrained. We performed a structural inversion of free air gravity anomalies, constrained by seismic refraction data, to established an improved Moho surface which provides more detail than existing global models such as Crust 1.0. With the improved basement and Moho relief, we computed residual basement depth. We obtained a ~300 m dynamic topography high on the Pacific-side of the Caribbean, gradually decaying to 0 m to the east near the Aves ridge.

This result supports the hypothesis of Pacific outflow through the Caribbean. Assuming a ~200 km thick asthenosphere and a flow velocity a few to a few tens of cm/yr, as suggested by tomographic imaging and regional magmatism, our results suggest the viscosity is ~5*1018 Pa s.

How to cite: Chen, Y.-W., Colli, L., Bird, D. E., Wu, J., and Zhu, H.: Asthenosphere viscosity in the Caribbean region constrained by gravity anomalies, seismic structure and regional magmatism, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-12682,, 2020.


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