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Testing the occurrence of Late Jurassic true polar wander using the La Negra volcanics of northern Chile

Fu, Roger R.; Kent, Dennis V.; Hemming, Sidney R.; Gutiérrez, Pablo; Creveling, Jessica R.

True polar wander (TPW) is the reorientation of the crust-mantle system driven by the redistribution of masses in the mantle and on the Earth’s surface. In the ideal case, characterization of TPW requires paleomagnetic constraints on the motion of all major plates and independent reconstructions of relative plate positions. While such complete datasets are absent for pre-Mesozoic TPW inferences due to the absence of oceanic plates, they are available for the Late Jurassic (165-145 Ma) “monster shift”, a ∼30◦ amplitude proposed TPW event. Here we perform paleomagnetic sampling and Ar-Ar geochronology on the La Negra volcanics of Northern Chile, producing two new paleomagnetic poles with ages 165.8 ± 1.8 Ma (1σ; 84.3◦N 0.9◦E; α95 = 7.6◦; N = 28) and 152.8 ± 0.8 Ma (84.5◦N 256.4◦E; α95 = 10.8◦; N = 18). By combining these data with other recently published results, we compute a net lithospheric rotation of 25.3◦ ± 7.3◦ (1σ ) at a mean rate of 1.21◦ ± 0.35◦ My−1 between 170 and 145 Ma with a peak rate of 1.46◦ ± 0.65◦ My−1 between 160 and 145 Ma. These rates are consistent with inferences from the Pacific Plate, implying true whole lithosphere rotation. Given coherent motion involving the entire lithosphere, we conclude that the Earth underwent rapid TPW between approximately 165 and 145 Ma, potentially driven by the cessation of subduction along the western North American margin

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Earth and Planetary Science Letters

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