Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Northwest Pacific-Izanagi subduction histories along Eurasia are poorly constrained due to extensive subduction, which partially consumed the western Pacific plate and the entire Izanagi plate, its hypothesized conjugate margin. Here we reconstruct NW Pacific-Izanagi plate tectonics since Cretaceous times by mapping and structurally restoring (i.e. unfolding) the subducted western Pacific slabs from regional and global tomography, and re-creating the vanished Izanagi plate as its conjugate rift flank. Unfolding of the western Pacific slabs based on their cross-sectional areas, corrected for ‘tomographic smearing’, reveals that 2230 to 5000 km of western Pacific plate was subducted between Kamchatka and the southern Marianas. We add our restored western Pacific and Izanagi plates to a global plate model to reveal that Izanagi subduction under Eurasia after the mid-Cretaceous was limited between the present Bohai Bay-Yellow Sea, China, and northern Russia. The southern limit of Izanagi subduction was a NW-SE sinistral transform that intersected Eurasia near present Qingdao, China, and segmented eastern Eurasia continental magmatism during the late Cretaceous; we call this transform the ‘Qingdao line’. We reconstruct a low-angle Izanagi-Pacific ridge-trench intersection with Eurasia at ∼50 ± 10 Ma between Bohai Bay-Yellow Sea and northern Russia. The ∼50 Ma Pacific plate motion change initiated subduction along the Qingdao line transform, forming the Izu-Bonin-Marianas arcs and reorganizing the Bohai Bay-Yellow Sea faults. We show tomographic and geodynamic modeling evidence that a 4000 km-long, laterally-continuous, NE-SW trending, seismically-slow ‘slab gap’ at 1000 ± 250 km depth between present northern Sakhalin and central China is the tomographic signature of the subducted Izanagi-Pacific ridge.
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National Science Foundation