Oligocene to Recent tectonic history of the Central Solomon intra-arc basin as determined from marine seismic reflection data and compilation of onland geology

Cowley, S.; Mann, P.; Coffin, M.F.; Shipley, T.H.. 2004 Oligocene to Recent tectonic history of the Central Solomon intra-arc basin as determined from marine seismic reflection data and compilation of onland geology. Tectonophysics, 389 (3-4). 267-307.

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Systematic analysis of a grid of 3450 km of multichannel seismic reflection lines from the Solomon Islands constrains the late Tertiary sedimentary and tectonic history of the Solomon Island arc and its convergent interaction with the Cretaceous Ontong Java oceanic plateau (OJP). The OJP, the largest oceanic plateau on Earth, subducted beneath the northern edge of the Solomon arc in the late Neogene, but the timing and consequences of this obliquely convergent event and its role in the subduction polarity reversal process remain poorly constrained. The Central Solomon intra-arc basin (CSB), which developed in Oligocene to Recent time above the Solomon arc, provides a valuable record of the tectonic environment prior to and accompanying the OJP convergent event and the subsequent arc polarity reversal. Recognition of regionally extensive stratigraphic sequences—whose ages can be inferred from marine sedimentary sections exposed onland in the Solomon Islands—indicate four distinct tectonic phases affecting the Solomon Island arc. Phase 1: Late Oligocene–Late Miocene rifting of the northeast-facing Solomon Island arc produced basal, normal-fault-controlled, asymmetrical sequences of the CSB; the proto-North Solomon trench was probably much closer to the CSB and is inferred to coincide with the trace of the present-day Kia-Kaipito-Korigole (KKK) fault zone; this protracted period of intra-arc extension shows no evidence for interruption by an early Miocene period of convergent “soft docking” of the Ontong Java Plateau as proposed by previous workers. Phase 2: Late Miocene–Pliocene oblique convergence of the Ontong Java Plateau at the proto-North Solomon trench (KKK fault zone) and folding of the CSB and formation of the Malaita accretionary prism (MAP); the highly oblique and diachronous convergence between the Ontong Java plateau and the Solomon arc terminates intra-arc extension first in the southeast (Russell subbasin of the CSB) during the Late Miocene and later during the Pliocene in the northwest (Shortland subbasin of the CSB); folds in the CSB form by inversion of normal faults formed during Phase 1; Phinney et al. [Sequence stratigraphy, structural style, and age of deformation of the Malaita accretionary prism (Solomon arc-Ontong Java Plateau convergent zone)] show a coeval pattern of southeast to northwest younging in folding and faulting of the MAP. Phase 3: Late Pliocene–early Pleistocene arc polarity reversal and subduction initiation at the San Cristobal trench. Effects of this event in the CSB include the formation of a chain of volcanoes above the subducting Australia plate at the San Cristobal trench, the formation of the broad synclinal structure of the CSB with evidence for truncation at the uplifted flanks, and widespread occurrence of slides and “seismites” (deposits formed by seismic shaking). Phase 4: Pleistocene to Recent continued shortening and synclinal subsidence of the CSB. Continued Australia-Pacific oblique plate convergence has led to deepening of the submarine, elongate basin axis of the synclinal CSB and uplift of the dual chain of the islands on its flanks.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0040-1951
Additional Keywords: Central Solomon intra-arc basin; Solomon arc; Oceanic plateau; Subduction polarity reversal
Date made live: 26 Jun 2008 +0 (UTC)

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