Reprocessing of Legacy Seismic Reflection Profile Data and Its Implications for Plate Flexure in the Vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands

P. Cilli, A. B. Watts, B. Boston, D. J. Shillington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


During 1975–1988, an academic research ship, R/V Robert D. Conrad, acquired more than 150,000-line-km of multichannel seismic reflection profile data from each of the world's main ocean basins and their margins. This extensive legacy seismic data set, which involved both single ship and two-ship data acquisition, has been widely used by the marine geoscience community. We report on our experience in reprocessing seismic reflection profile data acquired during Conrad cruise RC2308 to the Hawaiian Islands region in August/September 1982. We show that the application of modern, industry standard processing techniques, including filtering, de-bubble, deconvolution, and migration, can significantly enhance 40+ year old legacy seismic reflection profile data. The reprocessed data reveals more precisely, and with much less scatter, the flexure of Cretaceous Pacific oceanic crust caused by the Pliocene-Recent volcanic loads that comprise the Hawaiian Islands. A comparison of observed picks of top oceanic crust which has been corrected for the Hawaiian swell and the Molokai Fracture Zone with the calculations of a simple 3-dimensional elastic plate (flexure) model reveals a best fit elastic plate thickness of the lithosphere, Te, of 26.7 km, an average infill density of 2,701 kg m−3, and a Root Mean Square difference between observations and calculations of 305 m. Tests show these results depend weakly on the load density assumed and that the average infill density is close to what would be predicted from an arithmetic average of the flanking moat infill density and the infill density that immediately underlies the volcanic edifice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2023JB026577
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • legacy data sets
  • plate flexure
  • seismic processing
  • volcano loading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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