Marine Geophysical Researches

, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 489–512 | Cite as

Bathymetry of the Tonga Trench and Forearc: a map series

  • Dawn J. Wright
  • Sherman H. Bloomer
  • Christopher J. MacLeod
  • Brian Taylor
  • Andrew M. Goodlife


Four new bathymetric maps of the Tonga Trench and forearc between 14 °S and 27 °S display the important morphologic and structural features of this dynamic convergent margin. The maps document a number of important geologic features of the margin. Major normal faults and fault lineaments on the Tonga platform can be traced along and across the upper trench slope. Numerous submarine canyons incised in the landward slope of the trench mark the pathways of sediment transport from the platform to mid- and lower-slope basins. Discontinuities in the trench axis and changes in the morphology of the landward slope can be clearly documented and may be associated with the passage and subduction of the Louisville Ridge and other structures on the subducting Pacific Plate. Changes in the morphology of the forearc as convergence changes from normal in the south to highly-oblique in the north are clearly documented. The bathymetric compilations, gridded at 500- and 200-m resolutions and extending along ∼500 km of the landward trench slope and axis, provide complete coverage of the outer forearc from the latitude of the Louisville Ridge-Tonga Trench collision to the northern terminus of the Tonga Ridge. These maps should serve as a valuable reference for other sea-going programs in the region, particularly the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) and the National Science Foundation MARGINS initiative.

Convergent margins map series multibeam bathymetry tectonic erosion Tonga forearc Tonga Trench 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ballance, P.F., Scholl, D.W., Vallier, T.L., Stevenson, A.J., Ryan, H. and Herzer, R.H., 1989, Subduction of a Late Cretaceous Seamount of the Louisville Ridge at the Tonga Trench: A Model of Normal and Accelerated Tectonic Erosion, Tectonics 8: 953–962.Google Scholar
  2. Beiersdorf, H. and von Stackelberg, U., 1990. Geoscientific Studies of the Manihiki Plateau and the Lau Basin, Southwestern Pacific-SO 67 (in German), Jahresbericht für den Förderbereich Meeresgeowissenschaften, 1990, 67–70.Google Scholar
  3. Bevis, M., Taylor, F.W., Schultz, B.E., Recy, J., Isacks, B.L., Helu, S., Singh, R., Kendrick, E., Stowell, J., Taylor, B. and Calmant, S., 1995, Geodetic Observations of Very Rapid Convergence and Back-arc Extension at the Tonga Arc, Nature 374: 249–251.Google Scholar
  4. Billington, S., 1990, The Morphology and Tectonics of the Subducted Lithosphere in the Tonga-Fiji-Kermadec Region from Seismicity and Focal Mechanism Solutions, Ph.D. Thesis, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.Google Scholar
  5. Bloomer, S.H. and Fisher R.L., 1987, Petrology and Geochemistry of Igneous Rocks from the Tonga Trench: Implications for its Structure. J. Geology 95: 469–495.Google Scholar
  6. Bloomer, S.H. and Wright, D.J., 1996, Summary of Site Survey Cruise Results, Boomerang Leg 08, in Support of Proposal 451, Ocean Drilling in the Tonga Forearc: Subduction Geodynamics, Arc Evolution, and Deformation Processes at a Non-Accretionary Convergent Margin, Ocean Drilling Program Site Survey Data Bank, Palisades, New York.Google Scholar
  7. Bloomer, S.H., Wright, D.J., and Boomerang Leg 8 Shipboard Scientific Party, 1996, Geology of the Tonga Forearc: A suprasubduction zone ophiolite, Eos Trans. AGU 77: F325.Google Scholar
  8. Bloomer, S.H., Ewart, A., Bryan, W. and Hergt, J., 1994, Geochemistry and Origin of Igneous Rocks from the Outer Tonga Forearc, in J. Hawkins, Parson, L., Allan, J. et al. (eds) Proc. ODP, Sci. Results, 135, Ocean Drilling Program, College Station, Texas, 625–646.Google Scholar
  9. Brocher, T.M., 1985, On the Formation of the Vitiaz Trench Lineament and North Fiji Basin, in Brocher, T.M. (ed.), Investigations of the Northern Melanesian Borderland, Circum-Pacific Council for Energy and Mineral Resources Earth Science Series 3, Houston, Texas, 13–33.Google Scholar
  10. Caress, D.W. and Chayes, D.N., 1995, New software for processing sidescan data from sidescan-capable multibeam sonars, Proc. IEEE Oceans 95 Conference, 997–1000.Google Scholar
  11. Caress, D.W. and Chayes, D.N., 1996, Improved processing of hydrosweep DS multibeam data on the R/V Maurice Ewing, Mar. Geophys. Res. 18: 631–650.Google Scholar
  12. Caress, D.W., Spitzak, S.E. and Chayes, D.N., 1996, Software for multibeam sonars, Sea Technol. 37: 54–57.Google Scholar
  13. Castillo, P.R. and Hawkins, J.W., 1998, The composition of the subducting oceanic lithosphere mainly responsible for the chemical and isotopic variations of the Tonga-Kermadec Arc Lavas? Eos, Trans. AGU 79: F397.Google Scholar
  14. Clague, D.A. and Jarrard, R.D., 1973, Tertiary plate motion deduced from the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 84: 1135–1154.Google Scholar
  15. Clift, P.D., 1994, Controls on the sedimentary and subsidence history of an active plate margin: an example from the Tonga Arc, Southwest Pacific, in J. Hawkins, Parson, L., Allan, J. et al. (eds), Proc. ODP, Sci. Results, 135, Ocean Drilling Program, College Station, Texas, 173–188.Google Scholar
  16. Clift, P.D. and MacLeod, C.J., 1999, Slow rates of subduction erosion estimated from subsidence and tilting of the Tonga Forearc, Geology 27: 411–414.Google Scholar
  17. Clift, P.D., MacLeod, C.J., Tappin, D.R., Wright, D.J. and Bloomer, S.H., 1998, Tectonic controls on sedimentation in the Tonga Trench and Forearc, SW Pacific, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 110: 483–496.Google Scholar
  18. Cochran, J.R., Fornari, D.J., Malinverno, A., Wang, X. and Goff, J.A., 1992, Systematic variation of summit and flank morphology within a ridge segment: East Pacific Rise, 7 °S–9 °S, Eos, Trans. AGU 73: 313.Google Scholar
  19. DeMets, C., Gordon, R.G., Argus, D.F. and Stein, S., 1990, Current plate motions, Geophys. J. Int. 101: 425–478.Google Scholar
  20. Dupont, J. and Herzer, R.H., 1985, Effect of subduction of the Louisville Ridge on the structure and morphology of the Tonga Arc, in Scholl, D.W. and Vallier, T.L. (eds), Geology and Offshore Resources of Pacific Island arcs-Tonga Region, Circum-Pacific Council for Energy and Resources, Earth Science Series 2: 323–332.Google Scholar
  21. Falloon, T., Bloomer, S.H., Crawford, S.H. and Wright, D.J., submitted, Geochemistry of dredged boninite series volcanics from the Tongan Forearc: implications for the nature of early arc volcanism, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. Google Scholar
  22. Fisher, R.L., 1954, On the sounding of trenches, Deep-Sea Res. 2: 48–58.Google Scholar
  23. Fisher, R.L., 1974, Pacific-type continental margins, in C.A. Burk and C.L. Drake (eds), The Geology of Continental Margins, Springer-Verlag, New York, 25–41.Google Scholar
  24. Fisher, R.L. and Engel, C.G., 1969, Ultramafic and basaltic rocks dredged from the nearshore flank of the Tonga Trench. Geol. Soc. Amer. Bull. 80: 1373–1378.Google Scholar
  25. Fryer, P., Ambos, E.L. and Hussong, D.M., 1985. Origin and emplacement ofMariana Forearc Seamounts, Geology 13: 774–777.Google Scholar
  26. Fryer, P., Pearce, J.A., Stokking, L.B., et al. (eds), 1990, Proc. ODP, Sci. Results, 135, Ocean Drilling Program, College Station, Texas, 1092 pp.Google Scholar
  27. Gnibidenko, H.S., Anosov, G.I., Argentov, V.V. and Pushchin, I.K., 1985, Tectonics of the Tonga-Kermadec trench and Ozbourn Seamount, Tectonophysics 112: 357–383.Google Scholar
  28. Hamburger, M.W. and Isacks, B.L., 1988, Diffuse back-arc formation in the southwestern pacific, Nature 332: 599–604.Google Scholar
  29. Hawkins, J.W., 1974, Geology of the Lau Basin, a Marginal Sea Behind the Tonga Arc, in C.A. Burk and C.L. Drake (eds), The Geology of Continental Margins, Springer-Verlag, New York, 505–524.Google Scholar
  30. Hawkins, J.W., 1986, ‘Black smoker’ Vent Chimneys, Lau Basin, Eos, Trans. AGU 67: 430–431.Google Scholar
  31. Hawkins, J.W., 1995, Evolution of the Lau Basin–Insights from ODP Leg 135, in B. Taylor and J. Natland (eds), Active Margins and Marginal Basins of the Western Pacific, American Geophysical Union, Washington, D.C., 125–173.Google Scholar
  32. Hawkins, J.W., Bloomer, S.H., Evans, C.A. and Melchior, J.T., 1984, Evolution of intra-oceanic arc-trench systems, Tectonophysics 102: 175–205.Google Scholar
  33. Hawkins, J.W. and Natland, J.H., 1975, Nephelinites and basanites of the samoan linear volcanic chain: their possible tectonic significance, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 24: 427–439.Google Scholar
  34. Hawkins, J.W., Parson, L.M. and Allan, J.F., 1994, Introduction to the scientific results of leg 135: Lau Basin-Tonga Ridge drilling transect, in J. Hawkins, L. Parson, J. Allan, et al. (eds), Proc. ODP, Sci. Results, 135, Ocean Drilling Program, College Station, Texas, 3–5.Google Scholar
  35. Hilde, T.W.C., 1983, Sediment subduction versus accretion around the Pacific, Tectonophysics 99: 381–397.Google Scholar
  36. Hill, P.J. and Tiffin, D.L., 1993, Geology, sediment patterns, and widespread deformation on the sea floor off western samoa revealed by wide-swath imagery, Geo-Marine Lett. 13: 116–125.Google Scholar
  37. Hussong, D. and Uyeda S., 1981, Tectonic Processes and the History of the Mariana Arc: A Synthesis of the Results of Deep Sea Drilling Project Leg 60, in D.M. Hussong, S. Uyeda, et al. (eds), Initial Reports of the Deep Sea Drilling Project, 31, U.S. Govt. Printing Office, Washington D.C., 909–929.Google Scholar
  38. Isacks, B.L., Oliver, J. and Sykes, L.R., 1968, Seismology and the new global tectonics, J. Geophys. Res. 73: 5855–5899.Google Scholar
  39. Isacks, B.L., Sykes, L.R. and Oliver, J., 1969, Focal mechanisms of deep and shallow earthquakes in the Tonga-Kermadec region and the tectonics of Island Arcs, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 80: 1443–1470.Google Scholar
  40. Keeton, J.A., Searle, R.C., Parsons, B., White, R.S., Murton, B.J., Parson, L.M., Peirce, C. and Sinha, M.C., 1997, Bathymetry of the Reykjanes Ridge, Mar. Geophys. Res. 19: 55–64.Google Scholar
  41. Kelman, M., 1998, Hydrothermal Alteration of a Supra-Subduction Zone Ophiolite Analog, Tonga, Southwest Pacific, Master's Thesis, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.Google Scholar
  42. Kroenke, L.W., Jarvis, P.A. and Price, R.C., 1987, Morphology of the Fiji fracture zone: recent reorientation of plate boundaries in the vicinity of the north Fiji Basin, Eos, Trans. AGU 68: 1445.Google Scholar
  43. Lonsdale, P., 1986, A multibeam reconnaissance of the Tonga Trench axis and its intersection with the Louisville Guyot Chain, Mar. Geophys. Res. 8: 295–327.Google Scholar
  44. Lonsdale, P., 1988, Geography and history of the Louisville Hotspot chain in the Southwest Pacific, J. Geophys. Res. 93: 3078–3104.Google Scholar
  45. Macdonald, K.C., Fox, P.J., Carbotte, S., Eisen, M., Miller, S., Perram, L., Scheirer, D., Tighe, S. and Weiland, C., 1992, The East Pacific rise and its flanks, 8°–17°N: history of segmentation, propagation and spreading direction based on SeaMARC II and sea beam studies, Mar. Geophys. Res. 14: 299–334.Google Scholar
  46. MacLeod, C.J., 1994, Structure of the outer Tonga Forearc at site 841, in J. Hawkins, Parson, L., Allan, J. et al. (eds), Proc. ODP, Sci. Results, 135, Ocean Drilling Program, College Station, Texas, 313–329.Google Scholar
  47. MacLeod, C.J., 1996, Geodynamics of the Tonga subduction zone and Lau Backarc basin, Eos Trans. AGU 77: F325.Google Scholar
  48. MacLeod, C.J., Parson, L.M., Sager, W.W. and the ODP Leg 135 Scientific Party, 1992, Identification of Tectonic Rotations in Boreholes by the Integration of Core Information With Formation MicroScanner and Borehole Televiewer Images, in A. Hurst, C.M. Griffiths and P.F. Worthington (eds), Geological Applications of Wireline Logs, Geological Society of London Special Publication, London 65: 235–246.Google Scholar
  49. MacLeod, C.J., Wright, D.J., Bloomer, S.H. and Clift, P.D. (in preparation) Structure of the Tonga Forearc and Geodynamic Evolution of the Tonga-Lau Marginal Basin System.Google Scholar
  50. Millen, D.M. and Hamburger, M.W., 1998, Seismological evidence for tearing of the pacific plate at the northern termination of the Tonga subduction zone, Geology 26: 659–662.Google Scholar
  51. Miller, S.P. and Capell, W.J., 1993, Multibeam sonars: families for multi-mission Vessels, Sea Technol. 34: 10–15.Google Scholar
  52. New Zealand Hydrographic Office, 1977, South Pacific Ocean, New Zealand to Fiji and Samoa Islands, Defense Mapping Agency Hydrographic Center, Washington, D.C., 1 map sheet, 1:3,500,000.Google Scholar
  53. Olbertz, D., Wortel, M.J.R. and Hansen, U., 1997, Trench migration and subduction zone geometry, Geophys. Res. Lett. 24: 221–224.Google Scholar
  54. Parson, L.M. and Tiffin, D.L., 1993, Northern Lau Basin: backarc extension at the leading edge of the Indo-Australian plate, Geo-Marine Lett. 13: 107–115.Google Scholar
  55. Parson, L.M. and Hawkins, J.W., 1994. Two-stage ridge propagation and the geological history of the Lau Backarc basin, in J. Hawkins, L. Parson, J. Allan et al. (eds), Proc. ODP, Sci. Results, 135, Ocean Drilling Program, College Station, Texas, 819–828.Google Scholar
  56. Pelletier, B. and Dupont, J., 1990, Effets de la subduction de la ride de Louisville sur l'arc des Tonga-Kermadec, Ocean. Acta 10: 57–76.Google Scholar
  57. Pelletier, B. and Louat, R., 1989, Mouvements relatifs des plaques dan le sud-ouest pacifique, C.R. Acad. Sci. 308: 123–130.Google Scholar
  58. Pontoise, B., Pelletier, B., Aubouin, J., Baudry, N., Blanchet, R., Butscher, J., Chotin, P., Diament, M., Dupont, M., Eissen, J., Ferrière, J., Herzer, R., Lapouille, A., Louat, R., d'Ozouville, L., Soakai, S. and Stevenson, A., 1986, Subduction of the Louisville Ridge along the Tonga Trench: preliminary results of SEAPSO campaign (Leg V), Compte Rendu de l'Academie des Sciences, Série II 10: 911–918.Google Scholar
  59. Purdy, G.M., Sempéré, J.-C., Schouten, H., Dubois, D. L. and Goldsmith, R., 1990, Bathymetry of the mid-atlantic ridge, 24°–31 °N: a map series, Mar. Geophys. Res. 12: 247–252.Google Scholar
  60. Raitt, R.W., Fisher, R.L. and Mason, R.G., 1955, Tonga Trench, Geol. Soc. Amer. Spec. Paper 62: 237–254.Google Scholar
  61. Sager, W.W., MacLeod, C.J. and Abrahamsen, N., 1994, Paleomagnetic Constraints on Tonga Arc Tectonic Rotation from Sediments Drilled at Sites 840 and 841, in J. Hawkins, L. Parson, J. Allan et al. (eds), Proc. ODP, Sci. Results, 135, Ocean Drilling Program, College Station, Texas, 763–786.Google Scholar
  62. Sandwell, D.T., 1987, Biharmonic spline interpolation of GEOS-3 and seasat altimeter data, Geophys. Res. Lett. 14, 139–142.Google Scholar
  63. Scheirer, D.S., Macdonald, K.C., Forsyth, D.W., Miller, S.P., Wright, D.J., Cormier, M.-H., and Weiland, C.M., 1996, A map series of the Southern East Pacific rise and its flanks, 15 °S to 19 °S, Mar. Geophys. Res. 18: 1–12.Google Scholar
  64. Smith, G.P., Wiens, D.A., Dorman, L.M., Webb, S.C. and Fischer, K.M., 1998, Azimuthal anistotropy beneath the Lau Basin: observations of shear wave splitting from local earthquakes at ocean bottom seismometers, Eos Trans. AGU 79: F637.Google Scholar
  65. Tappin, D.R., 1994, The Tonga Frontal-arc basin, in P.F. Ballance (eds.) South Pacific Sedimentary Basins, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 157–176.Google Scholar
  66. Tappin, D.R., Bruns, T.R. and Geist, E.L., 1994a, Rifting of the Tonga/Lau Ridge and Formation of the Lau backarc basin: evidence from site 840 on the Tonga Ridge, in J. Hawkins, L. Parson, J. Allan et al. (eds), Proc. ODP, Sci. Results, 135, Ocean Drilling Program, College Station, Texas, 367–372.Google Scholar
  67. Tappin, D.R., Herzer, R.H. and Stevenson, A.J., 1994b, Structure and Stratigraphy of the Southern Tonga Ridge, 22°–26° South, in R.H. Herzer, P.F. Ballance and A.J. Stevenson (eds), Geology and Resources of Island Arcs-Tonga-Lau-Fiji Region, SOPAC Technical Bulletin 8: 81–100.Google Scholar
  68. Taylor, B., Zellmer, K., Martinez, F. and Goodliffe, A., Sea-floor spreading in the Lau Back-arc basin, 1996, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 144: 35–40.Google Scholar
  69. Taylor, B., Coffin, M., Dietrich, W., Dixon, T., Driscoll, N., Karner, G., Klemperer, S., Kohlstedt, D., Moore, C., Nittrouer, C., Plank, T., Sawyer, D., Stern, R., Stolper, E., Underwood, M. and Wiens, D., 1998, Program Focuses Attention on Continental Margins, Eos, Trans. AGU 79: 137–142.Google Scholar
  70. Vallier, T.L., O'Connor, R.M., Scholl, D.W., Stevenson, A.J. and Quinterno, P.J., 1985, Petrology of rocks dredged from the landward slope of the Tonga Trench: implications for middle miocene volcanism and subsidence of the Tonga Ridge, in D.W. Scholl, and T. L. Vallier (eds), Geology and Offshore Resources of Pacific Island arcs-Tonga Region, Circum-Pacific Council for Energy and Resources, Earth Science Series 2: 109–120.Google Scholar
  71. von Huene, R. and Culotta, R., 1989, Tectonic erosion at the front of the Japan trench convergent margin, Tectonophysics 160: 75–90.Google Scholar
  72. von Huene, R. and Lallemand, S., 1990, Tectonic erosion along the Japan and Peru convergent margins, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 102: 704–720.Google Scholar
  73. von Huene, R. and Scholl, D.W., 1991, Observations at convergent margins concerning sediment subduction, subduction erosion, and the growth of continental crust, Rev. Geophys. 29: 279–316.Google Scholar
  74. von Huene, R., Suess, E. and the ODP Leg 112 Scientific Party, 1988, Ocean drilling program leg 112, Peru continental margin: Part 1, Tectonic history. Geology 16: 934–938.Google Scholar
  75. von Rad, U., Riech, V., Wissmann, G., Stevenson, A. J., Morton, J.L. and Sinha, M.C., 1990, Seafloor reflectivity, sediment distribution, and magnetic anomalies of the Lau Basin (SW Pacific, SO35/48 cruises), Marine Mining 9: 157–181.Google Scholar
  76. von Stackelberg, U. and von Rad, U., 1990, Geological evolution and hydrothermal activity in the Lau and North Fiji Basins, Southwest Pacific Ocean: results of SONNE Cruise SO-35, Geologisches Jahrbuch. Reihe D: Mineralogie, Petrographie, Geochemie, Lagerstaettenkunde 92: 1–660.Google Scholar
  77. Watts, A.B., Weissel, J.K., Duncan, R.A. and Larson, R.L., 1988, Origin of the Louisville Ridge and its relationship to the Eltanin fracture zone, J. Geophys. Res. 93: 3051–3077.Google Scholar
  78. Wessel, P. and Smith, W.H.F., 1995, New version of the generic mapping tools released, Eos, Trans. AGU 76: 329.Google Scholar
  79. Wiedicke, M. and Collier, J., 1993, Morphology of the Valu Fa spreading ridge in the Southern Lau basin, J. Geophys. Res. 98: 11, 769–11, 782.Google Scholar
  80. Wiedicke, M. and Habler, W., 1993, Morphotectonic characteristics of a propagating spreading system in the Northern Lau Basin, J. Geophys. Res. 98: 11, 783–11, 797.Google Scholar
  81. Wright, D.J., 1992, Convergence and strike-slip motion at the northern terminus of the Tonga Trench, Southwest Pacific, in R.A. Geyer (ed.), CRC Handbook of Geophysical Exploration at Sea, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, 35–79.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dawn J. Wright
    • 1
  • Sherman H. Bloomer
    • 1
  • Christopher J. MacLeod
    • 2
  • Brian Taylor
    • 3
  • Andrew M. Goodlife
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of GeosciencesOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of WalesCardiffUK
  3. 3.Department of Geology & Geophysics, School of Ocean & Earth Science &TechnologyUniversity of HawaiiHonoluluUSA

Personalised recommendations