Reappraisal of effective elastic thickness in the south-west Indian Ocean, and its possible implications

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Deshraj Trivedi
Tanmay K. Maji
Debashish Sengupta
Rajesh R. Nair


The bathymetry of the south-west Indian Ocean is dominated by three mid-oceanic ridge systems: the Chagos–Laccadives Ridge, the Central Indian Ridge, and the Mascarene Plateau. Although there have been a number of geophysical and geological investigations over the region, the genesis of these morphological features is still contradictory. Most of the estimations of effective elastic thickness in this region have been carried out in the spectral domain, either by transfer function analysis or by free-air admittance analysis. As these investigations were along some one-dimensional profiles or discrete blocks, spatial variation of the effective elastic thickness was not achieved. Here, we reappraise the estimation of effective elastic thickness in the south-west Indian Ocean by performing the computation in the spatial domain using flexure inversion. During this process, we also estimate the Moho depth throughout the region by two independent processes: gravity inversion, and flexural inversion. The Te values (effective elastic thickness) are estimated in the spatial domain, which match well with the results in the spectral domain obtained with the free-air admittance method. In addition, there is spatial variation of the Te values over the area analyzed. Our estimated Te values are low (1-6 km) along the Chagos-Laccadives ridge, implying its proximity to a spreading ridge at the time of creation. The Te values along the Mascarene Plateau show spatial variation with a seafloor age from north (Te, ca. 4 km) to south (Te, ca. 20 km). These findings substantiate earlier data and suggest that Réunion was created due to intraplate volcanism.

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Trivedi, D., Maji, T. K., Sengupta, D. and Nair, R. R. (2012) “Reappraisal of effective elastic thickness in the south-west Indian Ocean, and its possible implications”, Annals of Geophysics, 55(2). doi: 10.4401/ag-5171.
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