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The Indonesian region includes several volcanic island arcs that are highly active at the present day, and also contains a record of Cenozoic volcanic activity owing to subduction of oceanic lithosphere at the margins of SE Asia. As a result of long-term subduction, there is a high regional heat flow, and a weak crust and lithosphere, as identified in other subduction zone backarcs. The stratigraphic record in the Indonesian region reflects a complex tectonic history, including collisions, changing plate boundaries, subduction polarity reversals, elimination of volcanic arcs, and extension. The arcs have not behaved as often portrayed in many arc models. They mark subduction but were not continuously active, and it is possible to have subduction without magmatism. Subduction hinge retreat was accompanied by significant arc volcanism, whereas periods of hinge advance were marked by reduction or cessation of volcanic activity. Growth of the region occurred in an episodic way, by the addition of ophiolites and continental slivers, and as a result of arc magmatism. In Indonesia, relatively small amounts of material were accreted from the downgoing plate during subduction, but there is also little evidence for subduction erosion. During collision the arc region may fail, resulting in thrusting, and the weakest point is the position of the active volcanic arc itself. Volcanic arcs shift position suddenly, and arcs can disappear during collision by overthrusting. Arcs are geologically ephemeral features and may have very short histories in comparison with most well-known older orogenic belts. The stratigraphic record of the basins within arc regions is complex. Because of a weak lithosphere the character of sedimentary basins may be unusual, and basins are commonly very deep and subside rapidly. There is a high sediment flux. The volcanic arc itself influences the stratigraphic record and basin development. The load imposed by the volcanic arc causes flexure and provides accommodation space. The volcanic arc thus can form the basin and supply most of its sediment. Tropical processes influence the mineralogy and apparent maturity of the sediment, especially volcanogenic material. A complex stratigraphy will result from the waxing and waning of volcanic activity.

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