Sutton hotspot: Resolving ediacaran-cambrian tectonics and true polar wander for laurentia

Ross N. Mitchell, Taylor M. Kilian, Timothy D. Raub, David A.D. Evans, Wouter Bleeker, Adam C. Maloof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Hotspot tracks represent plate motions relative to mantle sources, and paleomagnetic data from magmatic units along those tracks can quantify motions of those mantle anomalies relative to the Earth's magnetic field and rotational axis. The Ediacaran Period is notable for rapid and large paleomagnetic apparent polar wander (APW) for many continents. Whereas magmatic units attributed to the "Sutton" mantle plume suggest a practically stationary hotspot track, paleolatitudes of Laurentia for that interval vary dramatically; geologic and paleomagnetic data are at odds unless true polar wander (TPW) is invoked to explain a majority of APW. Here we test the plume-TPW hypothesis by generating the predicted Sutton hotspot track for a stationary plume under a moving plate along the Laurentian margin during the interval from 615 to 530 Ma. Our model is the first to provide a kinematic framework for the extensive large igneous province associated with opening the Iapetus Ocean.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)651-663
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


  • Apparent polar wander (APW)
  • Ediacaran
  • Hotspot
  • Laurentia
  • Plate tectonics
  • True polar wander (TPW)


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