Oceanic plateaus, the fragmentation of continents, and mountain building.

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Many anomalous rises in today's oceans may be submerged continental fragments detached from previous continents, ancient island arcs, or basaltic piles formed by hot spots and spreading centers. These rises become embedded in moving oceanic plates and are fated to be consumed at active margins. Where such rises are being consumed e.g. the Nazca Ridge, they cause cessation of volcanism, disruption of the downgoing slab, and possible shifts in plate boundary configuration. Many past rises, including numerous continental fragments, have been recognized within mountain belts as allochthonous terranes. The orogenic deformation in these belts is possibly the result of the accretion of the allochthonous terranes. Many terranes have been accreted with substantial deformation e.g. in the Alpine-chain, well before major continent-continent collisions. It is suggested, that the accretion of fragments may be the common process of the deformation phase of mountain building. Subduction of normal oceanic crust may be insufficient for deformation, whereas full continent-continent collision may not be necessary. The general validity of this conclusion depends critically on whether allochthonous terranes caused orogenic deformation in the Andes or not. Most of the accreted fragments with continental affinities in the Mesozoic-Cenozoic orogenic belts of the world can be traced back to the breakup of Gondwana. The reasons for this 250 million year breakup process are not known, but some kind of thermal process, possible of mantle-wide scale, is implied.-Authors

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3644-3661
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue numberB5
StatePublished - 1982
Externally publishedYes


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