Marine Geophysical Researches

, Volume 7, Issue 1–2, pp 177–190 | Cite as

Relationship between the oceanic geoid and the structure of the oceanic lithosphere

  • D. L. Turcotte
  • R. A. Harris


Data from the GEOS 3 and SEASAT Satellites have provided a very accurate geoid map over the oceans. Broad bathymetric features in the oceans such as oceanic swells and plateaus are fully compensated. For these features it can be shown that the geoid anomalies due to the density structure of the lithosphere are proportional to the first moment of the density distribution. Deepening of the ocean basins is attributed to thermal isostasy. The thickness of the oceanic lithosphere increases with age due to the loss of heat to the sea floor. Bathymetry and the geoid provide constraints on the extent of this heat loss. Offsets in the geoid across major fracture zones can also be used to constrain this problem. Geoid-bathymetry correlations show that the Hawaiian and Bermuda swells and the Cape Verde Rise are probably due to lithospheric thinning. A similar correlation for the Walvis Ridge and Agulhas Plateau indicates that these features are probably due to an anomalously light mantle lithosphere.


Lithosphere Heat Loss Fracture Zone Ocean Basin Density Structure 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. L. Turcotte
    • 1
  • R. A. Harris
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geological SciencesCornell UniversityIthaca

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