The active volcanic arcs of the Scotia- and Caribbean Plate are two prominent features along the otherwise passive margins of the Atlantic Ocean, where subduction of oceanic crust is verifiable. Both arcs have been important oceanic gateways during their formation. Trapped between the large continental plates of North- and South America, as well as Antarctica, the significantly smaller oceanic plates show striking similarities in size, shape, plate margins and morphology, although formed at different times and locations during Earth’s history.
Structural analyses of the seafloor are based on bathymetric datasets by multibeam-echosounders, including data of GMRT, AWI, BAS, MARUM/Uni-Bremen, Geomar/Uni-Kiel and Uni-Hamburg. Bathymetric data were processed to create maps of ocean floor morphology with resolution of 150-250 meters in accuracy. The Benthic Terrain Modeler 3.0, amongst other GIS based tools, was utilized to analyse the geomorphometry of both plates. Furthermore, we used bathymetric datasets for three-dimensional modelling of the seafloor to examine large-scale-structures in more detail. The modelling of ship-based bathymetric datasets, in combination with the GEBCO 2014 global 30 arc-second grid, included in the GMRT bathymetric database, delivered detailed bathymetric maps of both areas.
With the help of the fine- and broad-scale bathymetric position index, we present the first detailed interpretation of combined bathymetric datasets of the entire Caribbean, the Scotia Sea and adjacent areas, such as the South Sandwich Plate. We identified typical morphological features of the abyss, based on determination of steep and broad slopes, ridges, boulders, flat plains, flat ridge tops and depressions in various scales.