Biostratigraphic evidence for dramatic Holocene uplift of Robinson Crusoe Island, Juan Fernández Ridge, SE Pacific Ocean
Abstract. Hotspot oceanic islands typically experience subsidence due to several processes related to migration of the oceanic plate away from the mantle plume and surface flexural loading. However, many other processes can interrupt subsidence, some of which may be associated with catastrophic events. A study of the biostratigraphy and sedimentology of Holocene deposits on Robinson Crusoe Island (RCI) on the Juan Fernández Ridge (JFR) indicated that dramatic uplift has occurred since 8000 years BP, at a rate of about 8.5mm yr-1. This is evidenced by supratidal flats with tepee structures and sand layers containing marine gastropods (mostly Nerita sp.) that are now exposed ca. 70 m a.s.l. The active hotspot is located 280 km further west and the last volcanic activity on RCI occurred at ca. 800 000 years BP. Long-term subsidence is evidenced by deep submerged marine abrasion terraces at RCI. As no direct evidence was found for the existence of a compensating bulge generated by the present hotspot upon which RCI would be situated, it must be concluded that subsidence in the wake of the mantle plume beneath the migrating plate was interrupted by very rapid uplift, but on a scale that did not fully compensate for the previous subsidence. This can be attributed to large-scale landslides followed by isostatic rebound, although this is only vaguely reflected in the low-resolution bathymetry of the area. To determine if this mechanism produced the uplift, a detailed bathymetric survey of the area will be required. If such a survey confirms this hypothesis, it may have implications for the short-term dynamics of vertical variations of oceanic edifices and their related effects on ecosystems and human population.