The tectonic evolution of Southeast Asia through accretionary and extensional episodes since the Cretaceous
Although a number of tectonic reconstructions exist that document the development of the present-day complex assemblage of exotic terranes in Southeast Asia, very few describe the continuously evolving plate boundaries and the geodynamic driving forces in the region. We propose a plate motion model that attempts to reconcile evidence from both surface geology and the subsurface mantle structure, and implement continuously closing plate polygons using our open-source plate reconstruction software, GPlates, for the eastern Asian margin and eastern Tethyan domain since the Cretaceous. We link the change from a compressional to an extensional regime along eastern Asia in the Late Cretaceous as the likely opening of the Proto South China Sea in a back-arc setting to account for obducted ophiolite sections on Palawan that are Cretaceous in age, with a likely Miocene emplacement resulting from subduction of the Proto South China Sea crust. Such an interpretation is also consistent with the timing of accretionary episodes along northern Borneo and the upper mantle slab visible in P-wave seismic tomography models. The development of Sundaland is also intricately linked to the opening of the Proto South China Sea and the accretion of Gondwana-derived micro-continental blocks, including East Java and West Sulawesi, in the Cretaceous. Whether Sundaland behaved as a rigid cohesive block, or whether Borneo rotated and moved relative to Sundaland has been a matter of debate due to inconsistencies between paleomagnetic and structural data. Paleomagnetic results indicate significant rotations of Borneo that are accommodated by oroclinal bending without the need for bounding transform faults, which are not obvious in both seismic and potential field data. In the absence of preserved seafloor, we use geological evidence such as ophiolite emplacements, magmatic episodes, paleomagnetic constraints, structural reactivation and deformation as proxies to build a self-consistent plate model that describes the opening of the Proto South China Sea, the docking of West Sulawesi and Java with the Borneo core and the subsequent opening of the Makassar Strait.
AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts
- Pub Date:
- December 2012
- 3001 MARINE GEOLOGY AND GEOPHYSICS / Back-arc basin processes;
- 3040 MARINE GEOLOGY AND GEOPHYSICS / Plate tectonics;
- 8100 TECTONOPHYSICS