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Margin overviews

January 01, 2001


We present new bathymetric, seismic and gravity data on the southwestern tip of the South China Sea oceanic basin, where propagation of continental break-up occurred before c. 15 Ma. The oceanic domain has a V-shape typical of oceanic propagating rifts. The tectonic fabric of its margins shows that the main stretching direction was slightly oblique to that of the rift axis. A 2D gravity anomaly inversion, corrected for the thermal effect, is used to estimate the crustal structure. At the continent-ocean boundary, the continental crust is stretched by a factor of about four, rapidly decreasing to about two over a few tens of kilometres, a distance corresponding to just over 1 Ma of break-up propagation. Thus, strain localization occurs at the tip of the propagating oceanic crust just before break-up. The along-axis variation in continental crustal stretching is in good agreement with the kinematics of the oceanic crust derived from magnetic anomalies. This analysis suggests that break-up propagates toward the pole of relative rotation and is primarily controlled by the amount of stretching of the continental crust before oceanization.

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Geological Society, London, Special Publications

Non-Volcanic Rifting of Continental Margins: A Comparison of Evidence from Land and Sea

R. C. L. Wilson
R. C. L. Wilson
The Open University, UK
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R. B. Whitmarsh
R. B. Whitmarsh
Southampton Oceanography Centre, UK
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B. Taylor
B. Taylor
University of Hawaii, Hawaii
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N. Froitzheim
N. Froitzheim
University of Bonn, Germany
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Geological Society of London
ISBN electronic:
Publication date:
January 01, 2001




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