Along Pacific convergent margins of the Americas, high-standing relief on the subducting oceanic plate "collides" with continental slopes and subducts. Features common to many collisions are uplift of the continental margin, accelerated seafloor erosion, accelerated basal subduction erosion, a flat slab, and a lack of active volcanism. Each collision along America's margins has exceptions to a single explanation. Subduction of an ???600 km segment of the Yakutat terrane is associated with >5000-m-high coastal mountains. The terrane may currently be adding its unsubducted mass to the continent by a seaward jump of the deformation front and could be a model for docking of terranes in the past. Cocos Ridge subduction is associated with >3000-m-high mountains, but its shallow subduction zone is not followed by a flat slab. The entry point of the Nazca and Juan Fernandez Ridges into the subduction zone has migrated southward along the South American margin and the adjacent coast without unusually high mountains. The Nazca Ridge and Juan Fernandez Ridges are not actively spreading but the Chile Rise collision is a triple junction. These collisions form barriers to trench sediment transport and separate accreting from eroding segments of the frontal prism. They also occur at the separation of a flat slab from a steeply dipping one. At a smaller scale, the subduction of seamounts and lesser ridges causes temporary surface uplift as long as they remain attached to the subducting plate. Off Costa Rica, these features remain attached beneath the continental shelf. They illustrate, at a small scale, the processes of collision. ?? 2009 The Geological Society of America. All rights reserved.
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Neogene collision and deformation of convergent margins along the backbone of the Americas