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Abstract

Extensional basins can be classified according to plate-tectonic setting and driving mechanism into: (1) regional continental extension, (2) extension at the tips of permanently or temporarily abandoned spreading centers, (3) in the upper plate of volcanic arc-oceanic crust subduction zones, (4) soft collision zones, (5) post-orogenic wide rifts (Cordilleran type), (6) Himalayan-type extension; and (7) in response to far-field orogenic stresses. These settings display differences in mantle geometry, volcanic history, fault geometry and evolution, generation of lithospheric thermal anomalies, rift topography, post-rift history, sediment source characteristics, sediment pathways, and timing and intensity of inversion tectonics, which can impact hydrocarbon prospectivity. In convergent settings subduction rollback and slab-suction forces are very important mechanisms for generating extension, creating the conditions for non-uniform lithospheric thinning, and very characteristic thick (4-6 km), rapidly formed (10-15 Myr) thermal subsidence basins. The enhanced gravity potential of overthickened crust appears to be an important driving mechanism for extension in orogenic belts, but it is usually accompanied by other mechanisms (escape tectonics, subduction rollback, propagating spreading centers) for extension to occur.

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