Temperature Beneath Midplate Swells: The Inverse Problem

  1. Barbara H. Keating,
  2. Patricia Fryer,
  3. Rodey Batiza and
  4. George W. Boehlert
  1. Marcia Mcnutt

Published Online: 18 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM043p0123

Seamounts, Islands, and Atolls

Seamounts, Islands, and Atolls

How to Cite

Mcnutt, M. (1987) Temperature Beneath Midplate Swells: The Inverse Problem, in Seamounts, Islands, and Atolls (eds B. H. Keating, P. Fryer, R. Batiza and G. W. Boehlert), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM043p0123

Author Information

  1. Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 18 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1987

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900681

Online ISBN: 9781118664209



  • Seamounts;
  • Coral reefs and islands


Observations pertaining to the thermal structure of midplate swells surrounding hot spots, such as depth anomalies, geoid heights, heat flow, and the thickness of the elastic plate supporting the volcanoes, are inverted using the linear programming algorithm to derive extremal bounds on temperature as a function of depth and time in the lithosphere. The inversion technique makes no assumptions concerning the initial temperature dynamically emplaced in the lithosphere by the hot spot, other than that the temperature be physically plausible, but does assume that the process is steady state and that conductive cooling dominates heat transport once the lithosphere moves past the hot spot. Application of this inversion method to data from the Hawaiian and Marquesan island chains demonstrates that both swells require essentially the same perturbation by the hot spot to the lithosphere's thermal structure. Temperature anomalies of the order of 300–400°C are introduced at depths of 50 to 70 km where the temperature was only 900°C before swell formation.