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Current plate velocities relative to the hotspots incorporating the NUVEL-1 global plate motion model

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Abstract

NUVEL-1 is a new global model of current relative plate velocities [DeMets et al., 1990], which differ significantly from those of prior models. Here we incorporate NUVEL-1 into HS2-NUVEL1, a new global model of plate velocities relative to the hotspots. HS2-NUVEL1 was determined from the hotspot data and errors used by Minster and Jordan [1978] to determine AM1-2, which is their model of plate velocities relative to the hotspots. AM1-2 is consistent with Minster and Jordan's relative plate velocity model RM2. Here we compare HS2-NUVEL1 with AM1-2 and examine how their differences relate to differences between NUVEL-1 and RM2. HS2-NUVEL1 plate velocities relative to the hotspots are mainly similar to those of AM1-2. Minor differences between the two models include the following: (1) in HS2-NUVEL1 the speed of the partly continental, apparently non-subducting Indian plate is greater than that of the purely oceanic, subducting Nazca plate; (2) in places the direction of motion of the African, Antarctic, Arabian, Australian, Caribbean, Cocos, Eurasian, North American, and South American plates differs between models by more than 10°; (3) in places the speed of the Australian, Caribbean, Cocos, Indian, and Nazca plates differs between models by more than 8 mm/yr. Although 27 of the 30 RM2 Euler vectors differ with 95% confidence from those of NUVEL-1, only the AM1-2 Arabia-hotspot and India-hotspot Euler vectors differ with 95% confidence from those of HS2-NUVEL1. Thus, substituting NUVEL-1 for RM2 in the inversion for plate velocities relative to the hotspots changes few Euler vectors significantly, presumably because the uncertainty in the velocity of a plate relative to the hotspots is much greater than the uncertainty in its velocity relative to other plates.

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