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Compressive tectonism along the eastern margin of Malaita Island (Solomon Islands)

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Abstract

New bathymetric and geophysical data were collected in the region east of the island of Malaita during the SOPACMAPS II cruise of the French research vessel L'ATALANTE. This region, part of the Malaita Anticlinorium was interpreted as a piece of oceanic crust from the Ontong Java Plateau obducted over the old Solomon Islands arc during collision between the Pacific and Australian plates. It has been generally accepted that convergent motion between the Australia and Pacific plates since the Late Miocene was absorbed exclusively along the San Cristobal trench, southwest of the Solomon Islands Arc.

Bathymetry, imagery, and geophysical data (magnetism, gravity, seismic) acquired during the SOPACMAPS II survey allow us to classify the successive parallel ridges mapped within the region as being recent volcanic, oceanic crust, or deformed sedimentary ridges.

Seismic profiling provides evidence of successive compressive events along the Malaita margin caused by the relative motion between the Solomon Islands and the Pacific plate. The main phase of convergence probably occurred during Oligocene-early Miocene time, but some relative motion between the two domains are still being absorbed along the East Malaita boundary. The existence of active faulting in the sedimentary cover throughout the region and the present-day deformation of the outer sedimentary ridge is a good illustration of this phenomenon.

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Auzende, J., Kroenke, L., Collot, J.-. et al. Compressive tectonism along the eastern margin of Malaita Island (Solomon Islands). Marine Geophysical Researches 18, 289–304 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00286082

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Key words

  • West Pacific
  • Solomon Islands
  • swath bathymetry
  • geophysics
  • compressive tectonism