A detailed study of the Gagua Ridge: A fracture zone uplifted during a plate reorganisation in the Mid-Eocene

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Recent multibeam bathymetric and geophysical data recorded in the West Philippine Basin, east of Taiwan, reveal new information on the structure and the tectonic origin of the oceanic Gagua Ridge. This linear, 300 km-long, 4 km-high, north-south-trending ridge, is being subducted beneath the Ryukyu Trench along 123° E. This basement high separates two basins of different ages. Its summit is marked by two crests and an axial valley. A map of the basement top shows the region of the ridge to be composed of a set of linear and parallel ridges and troughs. All these elements suggest that the development of the ridge, and its surroundings, has been influenced by strike-slip deformation. Nevertheless, the height of the ridge indicates also an important compressive component in the deformation. Gravity models across the ridge show local compensation with a crustal root, indicating that an overthickening of the crust occurred when it was young and thus more easily deformable. This idea is strengthened with flexural modeling of the lithosphere that bends under the load of the ridge, indeed it indicates that the high probably formed when the underlying lithosphere was young. We interpret the Gagua Ridge as a fracture zone transverse ridge uplifted during a transpressive episode along a north-south -trending fracture zone in the middle Eocene time, if we accept Hilde and Lee's (1984) model of magnetic lineations. This tectonic event could be contemporaneous with a change of the pole of rotation of the West Philippine Basin which occurred about 43/45 Ma ago.

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