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The continental margin of western North America largely coincides with recently active plate boundaries. The plate interactions along the margin vary in tectonic style from oblique convergence through transform faulting and translation to subduction. The margin also includes at least two major migrating triple plate junctions. Plate-tectonic and geologic reconstructions suggest that a similar range of tectonic processes has been active along this margin for many tens of millions of years. The crustal thickness of the continental margin as far as 200 km inland from the continental slope is almost everywhere considerably less than “normal” continental, and commonly about 20 km. It seems evident that these tectonic processes have either thinned preexisting continental crust or preserved and uplifted former oceanic crust. They have not produced the 30- to 40-km-thick crust normally associated with continental material.

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