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In this chapter we present an overview of the geology of the Japanese archipelago and the surrounding ocean basins. To set the scene we begin by examining the main geological features of the present-day Japanese arc system. We then move back in time to the oldest rocks known in Japan and show how these origins have developed into the modern island arc. The early geological history of Japan is represented by Palaeozoic rocks, which were derived from both continental and oceanic domains. It is unclear if this early continental margin was passive or the site of plate convergence. After the Jurassic the geological record preserves abundant evidence for oceanic plate subduction beneath Japan. This convergence has continued until the present with numerous plates interacting with and leaving their mark on the geology of Japan. At c. 25 Ma the Japan Sea began to open causing the separation of Japan from the East Asia margin to form the present island arc.

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