On the origin of the North Pacific arcs


  • B. Gelabert
  • F. SÀBAT
  • Joan J. Fornós




North Pacific, Plate convergence, Island arcs, Back-arc basins


We present a new hypothesis that relates global plate tectonics to the formation of marginal basins, island arcs, spreading ridges and arc-shaped mountain belts around the North Pacific Ocean. According to our model, the ellipsoidal-shaped Paleogene basins of the South China Sea, Parece-Vela Basin, Shikoku Basin, Sea of Japan and the Sea of Okhotsk in addition to those of the North American Cordillera can be attributed to the change in plate convergence direction at 42 Ma between the Indoaustralian and Eurasian plates. The new direction of convergence was parallel to the eastern continental margin of Asia and resulted in widespread extension perpendicular to this margin and to the western margin of North America. Both margins form part of a circle parallel to the Indoaustralian-Eurasian direction of convergence.


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