Tectonic Inheritance in the Lithosphere
Published:November 11, 2019
2019. "Tectonic Inheritance in the Lithosphere", Fifty Years of the Wilson Cycle Concept in Plate Tectonics, R. W. Wilson, G. A. Houseman, K. J. W. McCaffrey, A. G. Doré, S. J. H. Buiter
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Tectonic inheritance and structure reactivation have been of interest to geologists since it was noticed in the mid-nineteenth century that younger structures in an area tend to follow the direction of older structures. Three kinds of relationship may exist between these older and younger structures: younger structures may follow the older ones and repeat their function; younger structures may follow older ones, but function in the opposite sense to the older ones; and younger structures bear no relation to the older ones. These are named, respectively, resurrected, replacement and revolutionary structures. We present three examples, on three different scales, of tectonic inheritance and structure reactivation: Mesozoic and Cenozoic Europe on a continental scale; the US Rockies on a regional scale; and the Albula Pass in the Swiss Alps on an outcrop scale. We conclude that structure reactivation on a crustal scale occurs when the protective armour of the mantle lithosphere is removed and that, in such cases, resurrected and replacement structures form. In cratons with thick lithospheric roots, structure reactivation hardly ever occurs and when, in rare cases, it does occur, it commonly generates revolutionary structures. There can be no unique model for lithospheric strength.
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Fifty Years of the Wilson Cycle Concept in Plate Tectonics
CONTAINS OPEN ACCESS
Fifty years ago, Tuzo Wilson published his paper asking ‘Did the Atlantic close and then re-open?’. This led to the ‘Wilson Cycle’ concept in which the repeated opening and closing of ocean basins along old orogenic belts is a key process in the assembly and breakup of supercontinents. The Wilson Cycle underlies much of what we know about the geological evolution of the Earth and its lithosphere, and will no doubt continue to be developed as we gain more understanding of the physical processes that control mantle convection, plate tectonics, and as more data become available from currently less accessible regions.
This volume includes both thematic and review papers covering various aspects of the Wilson Cycle concept. Thematic sections include: (1) the Classic Wilson v. Supercontinent Cycles, (2) Mantle Dynamics in the Wilson Cycle, (3) Tectonic Inheritance in the Lithosphere, (4) Revisiting Tuzo's question on the Atlantic, (5) Opening and Closing of Oceans, and (6) Cratonic Basins and their place in the Wilson Cycle.