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Book Chapter

Continental Margin Types Related to Plate Tectonics and Evolution of Margins

By
Hunter Yarborough
Hunter Yarborough
Global Exploration Analysts, Inc. & Assoc. Houston, Texas
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Published:
January 01, 1977

Abstract

Three fundamental styles of structural deformation have formed the margins of the continents since late Paleozoic time. The structural and sedimentary histories of the shelves and slopes appear to be genetically related to either a single simple structure style or to multihistory deformation in which two or even three different styles have been operative. The following discussion relates specifically to the sedimentary sequences occurring at the margins of our continents; not to the intracratonic rift basins, sinks, and sags (i.e. North Sea, Sirte Basin, etc.) that indent margins of many continents or to “drowned cratons” (i.e. The Sunda Shield, etc.).

One of these styles is characterized by extensional tectonics, a result of the “break-up” of the supercontinents of Gondwana and Laurasia which occurred primarily during the Mesozoic and early Cenozoic eras. In contrast, during middle and late Cenozoic times plate movements have deformed many plate boundaries by “shear-zone tectonics.” This second style of margin has been subjected to divergent extension and/or convergent compression as components of the synthetic shearing. Subduction, occurring at the “leading edges” of plates in motion, is the third basic style of continental margin deformation. Within this tectonic framework may be found both frontal and marginal basins. The structural, sedimentary, and volcanic histories of these subduction margins involve complex geologic relationships and pose extremely difficult exploration problems. Direct subduction, oblique subduction, island-arc collision, continental collision, and “flipped” Benioff zones are some of the scenarios depicting such margins.

In spite of the great thicknesses of both marine and

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Contents

AAPG Continuing Education Course Notes Series

Geology of Continental Margins

Joseph R. Curray
Joseph R. Curray
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William R. Dickinson
William R. Dickinson
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Wallace G. Dow
Wallace G. Dow
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Kenneth O. Emery
Kenneth O. Emery
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Donald R. Seely
Donald R. Seely
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Peter R. Vail
Peter R. Vail
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Hunter Yarborough
Hunter Yarborough
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American Association of Petroleum Geologists
Volume
5
ISBN electronic:
9781629812021
Publication date:
January 01, 1977

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