Tectonic Development of the Island Arcs and Basins of the South West Pacific

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 2
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1987
The classical view of island arc geology is that of a plutonic intrusive/volcanic extrusive complex, derived from the products of oceanic lithosphere subdu.ction and constructed on an over-riding plate of oceanic origin. Such an arc is typically backed by a marginal basin, formed by seafloor spreading of a more or less conventional kind. Various studies undertaken over the last decade have modified this picture and provided a new tectonic framework within which to explore for resources. Formation of Marginal Basins During the 1970s, seafloor spreading magnetic anomalies were identified in various marginal basins in the SW Pacific. In one of these, the South Fiji Basin, there was clear evidence of a ridge-ridge-ridge triple junction, although no kinematic relationship to the major plate boundaries was determined. Palaeomagnetic studies conducted in Vanuatu and Fiji, and in the Bismarck Archipelago of PNG provided evidence of large scale arc rotations relative to major plates. This indicated a general pattern of marginal basin formation by ridge-ridge-ridge triple junction growth together with island arc growth by trench-ridge-trench triple junction evolution. Formation of Primitive Island Arcs The triple junction growth model strongly suggests that at least a significant amount of arc evolution occurs by the initiation of subduction at a spreading ridge. This has predictive implications for the nature of island arc basement.
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