Subduction Initiation in Eastern Indonesia

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Subduction is often reported to be difficult to initiate, yet in the West Pacific and Eastern Indonesia there are many young subduction zones. Few theoretical or modelling studies consider such settings in which subduction commonly began close to boundaries between ocean crust and thickened crust of arc or continental origin.
In Eastern Indonesia there are subduction zones at different stages of development. Some young examples such as the Banda Arc developed by propagation of an existing trench into a new area by tearing, probably along an ocean-continent boundary. This ‘solves’ the problem since the older subducted slab provides the driving force to drag down unsubducted ocean lithosphere. However, similar explanations cannot account for other subduction zones, such as North Sulawesi, nearby examples in which the subducted slab is not yet at 100 km depth, or troughs where subduction appears to be beginning.
These examples show that subduction initiated at a point, such as a corner in an ocean basin, where there were very great differences in elevation between land and adjacent ocean floor. Depression of ocean crust by flow of arc/continent crust is associated with granitic magmatism and detachments within the upper crust. Once the oceanic corner reaches depths of c.100 km, eclogite formation may lead to slab pull that causes the new subduction zone to grow in both directions along strike; arc magmatism may or may not begin.
The close relationship between subduction and extension in Eastern Indonesia links dramatic elevation of land, exhumation of deep crust, and spectacular subsidence of basins imaged by oil exploration seismic and multibeam data. Exhumed granites and high-grade metamorphic rocks at elevations up to 3 km, separated by Neogene alluvial sediments from carbonate reefs now at depths of 2 kilometres, imply vertical movements of several kilometres in a few million years. These observations raise the question of whether subduction is driving extension or vice versa.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventAGU Fall Meeting - California, San Francisco, United States
Duration: 14 Dec 201420 Dec 2014


ConferenceAGU Fall Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco

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