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Arc Deformation and Marginal Basin Opening: Japan Sea as a Case Study

Abstract : We discuss the opening mechanism of the Japan Sea in Miocene time using (1) tectonic and published paleomagnetic data along the eastern margin from the north of Hokkaido Island to Sado Island, (2) a mechanical model which is tested by small-scale physical modeling, and (3) crustal structure and bathymetric features in the Japan Sea which constrain our kinematic model and preopening reconstructions. Our main conclusions are the following. The eastern margin of the Japan Sea was, as a whole, a dextral shear zone about 100 km wide. This conclusion is supported by the existence of a ductile dextral shear zone in Central Hokkaido (Hidaka Mountains) and associated brittle deformation in western Hokkaido and northeastern Honshu. The stress field during the opening (which ended about 12 Ma ago at the end of the middle Miocene) changes from right-lateral transpression in the north to right-lateral transtension in the south. The western margin, along the Korean peninsula, during the same period, also was an active dextral shear zone. Paleomagnetic results indicate that clockwise rotations occurred in the south during the opening and counterclockwise rotations in the north. We propose a model of right-lateral pull-apart deformation with clockwise rotations of rigid blocks in the southern transtensional domain and counterclockwise rotations in the transpressional one. Small-scale physical models show that the clockwise rotation in transtension is possible provided that the eastern boundary (Pacific side) is free of stress. The opening stopped and compression subsequently began about 12 Ma ago. Finally, we show that the dextral shear, which is distributed over the whole Japan Sea area, is accommodated by N-S trending right-lateral faults and rotation of blocks located between these right-lateral faults.
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Laurent Jolivet, Philippe Huchon, Xavier Le Pichon, Nicolas Chamot-Rooke, Jean-Charles Thomas, et al.. Arc Deformation and Marginal Basin Opening: Japan Sea as a Case Study. Journal of Geophysical Research : Solid Earth, American Geophysical Union, 1991, 96 (B3), pp.4367-4384. ⟨10.1029/90JB02455⟩. ⟨insu-00726512⟩

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