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The Cenozoic geologic history of west-central Sumatra is governed by the northward movement of the Indian plate with respect to Southeast Asia. The morphology and structure of the western Sumatran margin reflects the cumulative effects of the resulting subduction and right-lateral slip, especially of that since the late Oligocene. The characteristics of this margin are similar to those of other arc systems.

Nias, one of the islands of the trench slope break, consists of mid-Tertiary melange and younger, less deformed slope-basin strata. The trench slope break has been migrating westward since at least the mid-Miocene as shown by the...

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