Circum-Pacific Suspect Terranes and Lost Microcontinents: Chip off the Old Blocks

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 4
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1987
A number of terrane reconstructions conflict with global plate histories or with data from adjacent regional studies. Paleogeographic maps have ignored terranes thus are over-simplified. This paper represents an attempt to "marry" Mesozoic global plate reconstructions and terrane analysis to produce examples of a "third generation" of global plate tectonic maps. The best approach to global terrane analysis involves intercomparison of all regional data and the evolving global model. Data conflicts within and between terranes and regions must be resolved by a system of relative data reliability "weighting." The most reliable and useful data are those which constrain "departure" (rift) and "arrival" (collision) times. Certain ad hoc decisions aid in the analysis (e.g. only one net vector allowed per plate). The maps that follow summarize Early Mesozoic global tectonic history at three critical junctures: 240 MA (Triassic); 180 MA (Jurassic); and 120 MA (Cretaceous). Due to space limitations, maps drawn at 20 m.y. intervals appear elsewhere. A preliminary Middle Triassic reconstruction is presented in Figure 1. Major plates and continental blocks are labeled; smaller blocks are marked with abbreviations. Examination of Figure 1 indicates the necessity of modeling Triassic tectonics with at least 68 blocks. Spalling- off of microcontinental slivers from Gondwanaland is active some 70 m.y. before the actual breakup of the supercontinent. In the SW sector of the Pacific, the Australian margins were embroidered with several terranes (e.g. Sumba) which eventually rifted away and crossed Tethys. The NW sector at this time included 10 microcontinental chips forming a huge archipelago along the Asian margin. All blocks inboard of Indochina collided by latest Triassic. Terranes of the NE sector include several (e.g. Arctic Alaska) along the North American margin, and at least six large blocks (e.g. Stikinia) drifting SE with the Farallon Plate. The SE sector
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