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Cenozoic global plate motion models based on a hotspot reference frame may provide a useful framework for analyzing the tectonic evolution of the Solomon Islands convergent margin. A postulated late Miocene collision of the Ontong Java Plateau (OJP) with a NE-facing arc is consistent with the predicted path of the OJP across the Pacific Basin and its Miocene arrival at the trench. Late-stage igneous activity (65-30 Ma) predicted for the OJP as it rode over the Samoan hotspot occurred in correlative stratigraphic sections on Malaita, the supposed accreted flake of OJP in the Solomon Islands arc. Convergence similar to the present velocities between Australia and the Pacific plates was characteristic of the last 43 million years. Prior to 43 Ma Pacific-Australia plate motions were divergent, seemingly at odds with geologic evidence for early Tertiary convergence, particularly in Papua New Guinea. A postulated South Pacific plate may have existed between Australia and the Pacific plate and would have allowed implied northward subduction along the northeastern Australia plate boundary that lasted into the early Eocene. Subsequent reorganization of plate motions in the middle Eocene correlates with middle Eocene marginal basin formation along ridges oblique to the main plate boundary. Cessation of spreading on the Pacific-South Pacific Ridge and its subsequent subduction beneath Asia followed the change in Pacific plate motion at 43 Ma. A trapped remnant of the extinct, NW-trending ridge may still lie beneath the western Philippine Sea. The terminal deformation, metamorphism and ophiolite obduction in the Eocene orogen of the southwest Pacific also correlates with the major change in Pacific plate motion at 43 Ma and the subsequent compression of the dying Eocene arc against outlying continental and oceanic crustal blocks of the Australian plate. The Solomon Islands oceanic basement may represent juxtaposition of oceanic plateaus of the Australian plate beneath overthrust, dismembered ophiolite derived from adjacent marginal basin crust. ?? 1989.
Additional Publication Details
Origin of the oceanic basalt basement of the Solomon Islands arc and its relationship to the Ontong Java Plateau-insights from Cenozoic plate motion models