Low-volume intraplate volcanism in the Early/Middle Jurassic Pacific basin documented by accreted sequences in Costa Rica


Corresponding author: D. M. Buchs, Now at: Research School of Earth Sciences, Cardiff University, Main Building, Cardiff, United Kingdom. (


[1] Countless seamounts occur on Earth that can provide important constraints on intraplate volcanism and plate tectonics in the oceans, yet their nature and origin remain poorly known due to difficulties in investigating the deep ocean. We present here new lithostratigraphic, age and geochemical data from Lower/Middle Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous sequences in the Santa Rosa accretionary complex, Costa Rica, which offer a valuable opportunity to study a small-sized seamount from a subducted plate segment of the Pacific basin. The seamount is characterized by very unusual lithostratigraphic sequences with sills of potassic alkaline basalt emplaced within thick beds of radiolarite, basaltic breccia and hyaloclastite. An integration of new geochemical, biochronological and geochronological data with lithostratigraphic observations suggests that the seamount formed ~175 Ma ago on thick oceanic crust away from subduction zones and mid-ocean ridges. This seamount traveled ~65 Ma in the Pacific before accretion. It resembles lithologically and compositionally “petit-spot” volcanoes found off Japan, which form in response to plate flexure near subduction zones. Also, the composition of the sills and lava flows in the accreted seamount closely resembles that of potassic alkaline basalts produced by lithosphere cracking along the Line Islands chain. We hypothesize based on these observations, petrological constraints and formation of the accreted seamount coeval with the early stages of development of the Pacific plate that the seamount formed by extraction of small volumes of melt from the base of the lithosphere in response to propagating fractures at the scale of the Pacific basin.