Original paper

Geological understanding of plate tectonics: Basic concepts, illustrations, examples and new perspectives

Niu, Yaoling

Global Tectonics and Metallogeny Volume 10 Number 1 (2014), p. 23 - 47

116 references

published: Oct 1, 2014

DOI: 10.1127/gtm/2014/0009

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In this paper, I have reviewed some basic concepts of the plate tectonics theory in a plain geological language with the aim of encouraging geologists to correctly understand this theory in its applications to geological problems. I emphasized the decisive role of subduction as the ultimate (dominant) driving force of all the plate tectonics phenomena. Hence, my discussion has focused on major issues such as the origin of subduction zones, slab rollback, trench retreat, trench suction and driving mechanism of plate motion (both oceanic and continental) by means of illustration with hypothetical and real examples. As much of the discussion is heavily based on my personal (original) perspectives, some of the concepts, interpretations and hypotheses may not be familiar to many and may not be readily found in the existing literature. Mantle plume hypothesis is not the focus of this paper and is thus only mentioned in passing.


plate tectonicsdriving mechanismssubduction initiationtrench retreattrench suctionback-arc basinscontinental driftwestern Pacificeastern ChinaIndia-Asia convergence