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An extensive review of geologic and tectonic features of western North America suggests that the interaction of oceanic plates with the continent follows a broad cyclical pattern. In a typical cycle, periods of rapid subduction (7–15 cm/yr), andesitic volcanism, and trench-normal contraction are followed by a shift to trench-normal extension, the onset of voluminous silicic volcanism, formation of large calderas, and the creation of major batholiths. Extension becomes pervasive in metamorphic core complexes, and there is a shift to fundamentally basaltic volcanism, formation of flood basalts, widespread rifting, rotation of terranes, and extensive circulation of fluids throughout the plate margin....

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