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Collision tectonics in the New Hebrides arc (Vanuatu)


Meffre, S and Crawford, AJ, Collision tectonics in the New Hebrides arc (Vanuatu), The Island Arc, 10, (1) pp. 33-50. ISSN 1038-4871 (2001) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1046/j.1440-1738.2001.00292.x


The New Hebrides island arc in Vanuatu has been significantly modified by collision with several major submarine ridges and plateaux. Bathymetric sections taken at intervals along the arc, perpendicular to the trench, show that prior to collision at 3 Ma the morphology was typical of modern intraoceanic island arcs. Collision has caused uplift of the trench and forearc (up to 6000 m), subsidence around the arc volcanic edifices (up to 2500 m), forming a large intra-arc basin and uplift of the arc-backarc transition (up to 2000 m). In the transition zone between collisional and non-collisional sections of the arc, subsidence occurs in the forearc and uplift occurs around the arc volcanoes. Many of these characteristics are typical of collisions in other Western Pacific island arcs such as the Tonga-Kermadec and Izu-Bonin arcs. The pattern of uplift and subsidence has important implications for the tectonic history of the New Hebrides system. The morphology of the arc shows that collision of the West Torres Massif probably accounts for at least half the uplift. Arrival at 0.7 Ma of the West Torres Massif in the trench may have caused the slowing of subduction in the entire northern half of the arc and not just in the central segment as previously suggested. Re-equilibration of the arc following collision probably masks any evidence of collision prior to 3 Ma. For example, the Efate re-entrant, a large indentation in the arc immediately to the south of the collision zone, probably originated as a result of erosion during collision followed by subsidence after collision. The Vanuatu collision shows that the subduction of seamounts and ridges in an intraoceanic arc temporarily changes the arc morphology, allowing the development of angular unconformities and changing the pattern of sedimentation. This provides information which can be used to facilitate recognition of these events in ancient arc-related sequences.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Geology
Research Field:Structural geology and tectonics
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences
UTAS Author:Meffre, S (Professor Sebastien Meffre)
UTAS Author:Crawford, AJ (Professor Anthony Crawford)
ID Code:23249
Year Published:2001
Web of Science® Times Cited:57
Deposited By:Centre for Ore Deposit Research - CODES CoE
Deposited On:2001-08-01
Last Modified:2002-06-11

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