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Uncertainties and implications of the Late Cretaceous and Tertiary position of North America relative to the Farallon, Kula, and Pacific Plates

Stock, Joann and Molnar, Peter (1988) Uncertainties and implications of the Late Cretaceous and Tertiary position of North America relative to the Farallon, Kula, and Pacific Plates. Tectonics, 7 (6). pp. 1339-1384. ISSN 0278-7407. doi:10.1029/TC007i006p01339.

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We present updated global plate reconstructions and calculated uncertainties of the Pacific, Kula, and Farallon/Vancouver plates relative to North America for selected times since 68 Ma. Improved magnetic data from the Indian Ocean decrease the uncertainties in. the global plate circuit approach; these uncertainties are now considerably smaller than those inherent in equivalent reconstructions based on the assumption of fixed hotspots. Major differences between these results and those of others are due to our use of more detailed Africa-North America reconstructions, separate Vancouver and Farallon plate reconstructions, and the assumption of a rigid Antarctica plate during Cenozoic time. The uncertainties in the relative positions of the Pacific and North America plates since the time of anomaly 7 (26 Ma) range up to ±100 km in position, or from 1 to 3 m.y. in time. If the Mendocino triple junction initiated at about 28.5 Ma, its position would have been at 31.3°N ± 130 km relative to fixed North America. Unacceptable overlap of oceanic crust of the Pacific plate with continental crust of western North America in the anomaly 10 (30 Ma) reconstruction is a minimum of 340±200 km along an azimuth of N60°E and may be accounted for by Basin and Range extension. Pacific-North America displacement in the past 20 Ma is found to be considerably less than that calculated by fixed hotspot reconstructions. Farallon (Vancouver)-North America convergence velocity decreased greatly between the times of anomalies 24 and 21 (56 to 50 Ma), prior to the 43 Ma age of the Hawaiian-Emperor bend and the often quoted 40 Ma “end” of the Laramide orogeny. A change in direction of Farallon-North America convergence occurred sometime between 50 and 42 Ma and also may not correlate with the time of the Hawaiian-Emperor bend. The lack of data from subducted parts of the Farallon and Kula plates permits many possibilities regarding the position of the Kula-Farallon ridge, the age of subducted crust, or the position of oceanic plateaus during the Laramide orogeny, leaving open the question of the relationship between plate tectonic scenarios and tectonic style during Laramide time. Displacements of points on the various oceanic plates along the west coast of an arbitrarily fixed North America during the interval between anomalies 30/31 and 18 (68 to 42 Ma) are found to be: Pacific plate, 1700±200 km northward; Farallon plate, 3200±400 km northeastward; Vancouver plate, 3000±400 km northeastward; Kula plate, if attached to the Pacific plate after A24 time, 2500±400 km northward.

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Stock, Joann0000-0003-4816-7865
Additional Information:© 1988 by the American Geophysical Union. Received March 7, 1988; revised August 10, 1988; accepted August 12, 1988. Paper number 88TC03471. We thank T. Atwater for continued interest in this work and for providing a preprint of her DNAG paper well in advance of publication. Jeff Severinghaus provided magnetic anomaly identifications in advance of publication and a preprint of work in progress. We thank T. Atwater (especially), R. Carlson, M. Debiche and J. Dewey for reviewing the manuscript. This research was supported in part by NSF grant OCE-8400090. J. M. Stock's graduate studies at M. I. T. were supported by a Fannie and John Herz Foundation Fellowship.
Group:Seismological Laboratory, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences
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Fannie and John Hertz FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:6
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20140905-135601264
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Official Citation:Stock, J., and P. Molnar (1988), Uncertainties and implications of the Late Cretaceous and Tertiary position of North America relative to the Farallon, Kula, and Pacific Plates, Tectonics, 7(6), 1339–1384, doi:10.1029/TC007i006p01339.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:49297
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:05 Sep 2014 21:23
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 18:42

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