7. Plate Tectonic Evolution
of the Cocos-Nazca Spreading Center1

Martin Meschede2 and Udo Barckhausen3


Paleogeographic restorations for the oceanic crust formed by the Cocos-Nacza spreading center and its precursors were performed in steps of 0.5 m.y. The breakup of the Farallon plate into the Cocos and Nazca plates occurred at ~23 Ma and was followed by three subsequent spreading systems: CNS-1, ~23-19.5 Ma; CNS-2, 19.5-14.7 Ma; and CNS-3, 14.7 Ma-present. Based on the spreading history, we reconstructed the evolution and ages of submarine aseismic ridges in the Eastern Pacific Basin—the Carnegie, Coiba, Cocos, and Malpelo Ridges, which overprint oceanic crust formed at the subsequent Cocos-Nazca spreading system. The mophological bipartition of the Carnegie Ridge reflects the jump from CNS-2 to CNS-3 at 14.7 Ma and the later increasing distance of the CNS-3 spreading axis from the Galápagos hotspot. The Cocos Ridge is mainly composed of products from the Galápagos hotspot but also contains material from a suggested less productive second center of volcanic activity that is located ~600 km northeast of Galápagos. The Malpelo Ridge is a product of the second center of volcanic activity, whereas the Coiba Ridge probably formed directly at the Galápagos hotspot. The geometric relationship of the Cocos and Carnegie Ridges indicates symmetric spreading and a constant northward shift of the presently active CNS-3 system since its formation at 14.7 Ma.

1Meschede, M., and Barckhausen, U., 2000. Plate tectonic evolution of the Cocos-Nazca spreading center. In Silver, E.A., Kimura, G., and Shipley, T.H. (Eds.), Proc. ODP, Sci. Results, 170: College Station, TX (Ocean Drilling Program) [Online]. Available from World Wide Web: <http://www-odp.tamu.edu/publications/170_SR/chap_07/chap_07.htm>. [Cited YYYY-MM-DD]

2Institut für Geologie und Paläontlogie, Sigwartstrasse 10, D-72076 Tübingen, Federal Republic of Germany. meschede@uni-tuebingen.de

3Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, Stilleweg 2, D-30655 Hannover, Federal Republic of Germany.

Initial receipt: 17 January 2000
Acceptance: 24 August 2000
Web publication: 20 November 2000
Ms 170SR-009