Ophiolites, recognized in most of the world's orogenic belts, are generally interpreted to be oceanic crust and upper mantle (lithosphere) fragments that have been incorporated into continental margins at consuming plate boundaries. We suggest that the mechanism for ophiolite emplacement is the same in both the Alpine and Andean-type orogenes. In both geological settings, obduction of oceanic lithosphere onto the continental lithosphere is caused by the convergence of light, buoyant bodies such as oceanic plateaus, continental slivers, island arcs, or old hot spot traces. For example, the Troodos ophiolite complex, previously interpreted by some workers as resulting from continental collision, may have been emplaced by the collision of Cyprus with the Eratosthenes Plateau embedded in the oceanic E Mediterranean crust. On the other hand, the Upper Jurassic Coast Range ophiolities of California, previously interpreted as resulting from typical oceanic subduction, may be the result of a continuous injection of thick nonsubductable packages of light, continentally derived sedimentary rocks, seamounts, and plateaus into the subduction zones. Many other ophiolite complexes may be similarly related to accreted terranes.-Authors Dept of Geophys, Stanford Univ, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.