A general model of arc–continent collision and subduction polarity reversal from Taiwan and the Irish Caledonides
Peter D. Clift, Hans Schouten, Amy E. Draut, 2003. "A general model of arc–continent collision and subduction polarity reversal from Taiwan and the Irish Caledonides", Intra-Oceanic Subduction Systems: Tectonic and Magmatic Processes, R. D. Larter, P. T. Leat
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The collision of the Luzon Arc with southern China represents the best example of arc-continent collision in the modern oceans, and compares closely with the Early Ordovician accretion of the Lough Nafooey arc of Connemara, Ireland, to the passive margin of Laurentia. We propose a general model for steady-state arc-continent collision in which arc crust is progressively added to a passive margin during a process of compression, metamorphism and magmatism lasting 3–10 Ma at any one location on the margin. Depending on the obliquity of the angle of collision, the timing of active collision may be diachronous and long-lived along the margin. Magmatism accompanying accretion can be more enriched in incompatible trace elements than average continental crust, contrasting with more depleted magmatism prior to collision. Accretion of a mixture of depleted and enriched arc lithologies to the continental margin allows the continental crust to grow through time by arc-passive margin collision events. During the collision the upper and middle arc crust are detached from the depleted ultramafic lower crust, which is subducted along with the mantle lithosphere on which the arc was founded. Rapid (2–3 Ma) exhumation and gravitational collapse of the collisional orogen forms the Okinawa and South Mayo Troughs in Taiwan and western Ireland, respectively. These basins are filled by detritus eroded from the adjacent collision zone. During subsequent subduction polarity reversal, continuous tearing and retreat of the oceanic lithosphere along the former continent-ocean transition provides space for the new subducting oceanic plate to descend without need for breaking of the original slab.
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Intra-Oceanic Subduction Systems: Tectonic and Magmatic Processes
Recycling of oceanic plate back into the Earth’s interior at subduction zones is one of the key processes in Earth evolution. Volcanic arcs, which form above subduction zones, are the most visible manifestations of plate tectonics, the convection mechanism by which the Earth loses excess heat They are probably also the main location where new continental crust is formed, the so-called ‘subduction factory’. About 40% modern subduction zones on Earth are intra-oceanic. These subduction systems are generally simpler than those at continental margins as they commonly have a shorter history of subduction and their magmas are not contaminated by ancient sialic crust. They are therefore the optimum locations for studies of mantle processes and magmatic addition to the crust in subduction zones.
This volume contains a collection of papers that exploit the relative simplicity of intra-oceanic subduction systems to provide insights into the tectonic, magmatic and hydrothermal processes associated with subduction.