Structure and tectonic evolution of the South Sandwich arc
Robert D. Larter, Lieve E. Vanneste, Peter Morris, David K. Smythe, 2003. "Structure and tectonic evolution of the South Sandwich arc", Intra-Oceanic Subduction Systems: Tectonic and Magmatic Processes, R. D. Larter, P. T. Leat
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Detailed analysis of marine magnetic profiles from the western part of the East Scotia Sea confirms continuous, organized back-arc spreading since at least 15 Ma ago. In the eastern part of the East Scotia Sea, the South Sandwich arc lies on crust that formed at the back-arc spreading centre since 10 Ma ago, so older back-arc crust forms the basement of the present inner forearc. Interpretations of two multichannel seismic reflection profiles reveal the main structural components of the arc at shallow depth, including evidence of trench-normal extension in the mid-forearc, and other features consistent with ongoing subduction erosion. The seismic profile interpretations have been used to constrain simple two-dimensional gravity models. The models were designed to provide constraints on the maximum possible thickness of the arc crust, and it is concluded that this is 20 and 19.2 km on the northern and southern lines, respectively. On the northern line the models indicate that the forearc crust cannot be much thicker than normal oceanic crust. Even with such thin crust, however, the magmatic growth rate implied by the cross-section of the arc crust is within the range recently estimated for two other arcs that have been built over a much longer interval.
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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.