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Densely Sampled Global Dynamic Topographic Observations and Their Significance

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White, NJ 


Topography and bathymetry are principally supported by some combination of crustal and sub-crustal density variations. However, dynamic topography is generated by vertical deflection of the Earth's surface as a result of mantle convection. Isolating and quantifying observable dynamic topography yields valuable information about mantle processes. Here, we investigate global dynamic topography by calculating residual depth anomalies throughout the oceanic realm and residual topographic anomalies across the continents. We correct for sedimentary and crustal loading by exploiting a variety of seismologic datasets that include seismic reflection profiles, wide-angle/refraction surveys and receiver functions. In this way, an extensively revised and augmented global compilation of 10,874 oceanic residual depth measurements and 3,777 continental residual topographic measurements is constructed. In the oceanic realm, the methodology has been revised to improve accuracy and resolution. First, quartz/clay content of the sedimentary column is adjusted to remove minor skewness of residual depth anomalies as a function of plate age. Secondly, variation of bulk density as a function of crustal thickness is taken into account. Our global compilation is used to generate spherical harmonic representations of observable dynamic topography out to degree 40 (i.e. $\sim$1000~km). Resultant spectra demonstrate that dynamic topographic power varies linearly with inverse wavenumber. The spectral slope directly reflects the way by which dynamic topography is generated by Stokes' flow. Our global results are consistent with independent and diverse geologic markers of uplift and subsidence together with Neogene-Quaternary intraplate basalt magmatism.



Journal Title

Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth

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American Geophysical Union (AGU)