Abstract

The theory of plate tectonics is applied to the tectonic evolution of the Hellenides and the Canadian Cordillera. In the Hellenides a Tethyan zone of sea-floor spreading developed within the continental crust during Triassic time and functioned until the end of the Middle Jurassic. It led to the formation of two plates, each with continental and oceanic segments, that were separated in some places by accreting plate margins and in others by transform faults. In Late Jurassic time the mid-Tethyan ridge became inactive as new ridges developed in the Atlantic Ocean. From Late Jurassic to Recent time, Tethyan oceanic crust largely disappeared under one of the cratons. The chronology of tectonic events in the Hellenides corresponds well with that of sea-floor spreading in the Atlantic.Four periods of sea-floor spreading were involved in the formation of the Canadian Cordillera: (1) a Silurian? to Early Devonian period when an Archeo-Pacific Ocean separated the Canadian craton with a stable sedimentary margin from a volcanic archipelago; (2) a Middle Devonian to Permian period when the extinct volcanic archipelago was bounded to the west by a spreading Paleo-Pacific Ocean, and to the east by a tectonic contact which was consuming Archeo-Pacific oceanic crust; part of this crust was obducted over the continental margin; (3) a Late Triassic to Middle Jurassic period when a second volcanic archipelago separated a spreading Neo-Pacific Ocean from the continental margin; and (4) a Late Jurassic to Recent period where spreading occurred in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, subjecting the second volcanic archipelago and the continental margin to major tectonism; since the Paleocene, the Cordillera has slid towards the NNW along transform faults.

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