Geodynamic context of the Taiwan orogen

Jean Claude Sibuet, Shu Kun Hsu, Eric Debayle

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Four independent arguments suggest that the Ryukyu subduction zone extended from Japan to southwest Taiwan (118°E) from the late Cretaceous to early Miocene (17-18 Ma): i) An analysis of the structure and timing of rifting in the basins of the East Asia continental shelf and west of Taiwan shows that they are located within four belts parallel to the mainland Chinese shoreline, which becomes younger oceanward since early Tertiary. Ridges with volcanic products are present between these belts. We interpret these basins and associated ridges as relict backarc basins and arcs of the Ryukyu subduction system, ii) Subsidence curves across west Taiwan Basins show that rifting ceased 17-18 Ma. iii) A new shear wave velocity model suggests that the Ryukyu slab extended in the past southwest of Taiwan, beneath the northern China Sea margin, iv) A deep seismic line shot across the northeastern South China Sea margin also suggests that this margin was active in the past. We conclude that about 15-20 Ma, the southwestern extremity of the Ryukyu subduction zone jumped from 118°E (southwest of the Tainan Basin) to 126°E (where the present-day trend of the Ryukyu subduction zone changes direction). Since that time, the southwestern extremity of the Ryukyu subduction zone continuously moved westwards to its present-day location at 122°E. Since the beginning of formation of proto-Taiwan during late Miocene (9 Ma), the subducting PH Sea plate moved continuously through time in a N307° direction at 5.6 cm/yr with respect to EU, tearing the EU plate.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContinent-Ocean Interactions Within East Asian Marginal Seas, 2004
EditorsW. Kuhnt, P. Wang, D. Hayes, P. Clift
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Ltd
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9781118666067
ISBN (Print)9780875904146
StatePublished - 2004

Publication series

NameGeophysical Monograph Series
ISSN (Print)0065-8448
ISSN (Electronic)2328-8779


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