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Abstract

Convergence and subduction started in the Late Paleocene, to the east of New Caledonia in the South Loyalty Basin/Loyalty Basin, leading to the formation of the Subduction–Obduction Complex of Grande Terre. Convergence during the Eocene consumed the oceanic South Loyalty Basin and the northeasternmost margin of Zealandia (the Norfolk Ridge). The attempted subduction of the Norfolk Ridge eventually led to the end-Eocene obduction. Intra-oceanic subduction started in the South Loyalty Basin, as indicated by high-temperature amphibolite (56 Ma), boninite and adakite series dykes (55–50 Ma) and changes in the sedimentation regime (55 Ma). The South Loyalty Basin and its margin were dragged to a maximum depth of 70 km, forming the high-pressure–low-temperature Pouébo Terrane and the Diahot–Panié Metamorphic Complex, before being exhumed at 38–34 Ma. The obduction complex was formed by the stacking from NE to SW of several allochthonous units over autochthonous Zealandia, including the Montagnes Blanches Nappe (Norfolk Ridge crust), the Poya Terrane (the crust of the South Loyalty Basin) and the Peridotite Nappe (the mantle lithosphere of the Loyalty Basin). A model of continental subduction accepted by most researchers is proposed and discussed. Offshore continuations and comparable units in Papua New Guinea and New Zealand are presented.

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