Perceptions of the Permian Pacific - The Medusa hypothesis

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1987
The present Pacific Ocean arose from rapid sea-floor spreading that commenced in the late Mesozoic, and continues to the present day. It started within what is here called the Medusa complex of seaways, basins and troughs with spreading ridges and volcanic arcs, that girdled the earth, including the Palaeotethys and Neotethys of Eurasia between Gondwanaland and Laurasia. Detailed mapping and analysis of palaeofaunas and volcanic arcs indicate that several seaways, rather than one or two, extended throughout Tethys, and into areas now occupied by the Pacific Ocean. The Medusa complex developed under a long sustained wrench regime, right lateral at least from New Zealand to Eur.ope, and saw the origin, maturation and closure of elongate and oval basins under erratic sea-floor spreading, in which no Eulerian pole of rotation remained fixed for long. The name Medusa stems from the analogy of snake-like writhing hair to the constantly shifting development of basins and orogens within the complex. The Indian Ocean split and opened up Gondwanaland concomitant with the later development and deformation of the Tethyan segment- of Medusa, whereas, to the east, the Pacific Ocean opened within Medusa itself, and dispersed Medusa around the rim of the Pacific through sea-floor spreading and strike-slip faulting.
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