Earth Science Frontiers ›› 2020, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (1): 244-259.DOI: 10.13745/j.esf.2020.1.26

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Detailed study of the formation of Japanese islands based on tectonic evolution of basins in the East China Sea and Northern South China Sea.

LIANG Guanghe   

  1. 1. Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences; Key Laboratory of Mineral Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, China
    2. Institutions of Earth Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, China
    3. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2019-03-20 Revised:2019-09-05 Online:2020-01-20 Published:2020-01-20


The Japanese islands are located between the eastern edge of Asia and the western Pacific. The source and genetic mechanism of their formation have been extensively studied, but controversies still remain. Japan is traditionally considered to be part of the trench arc basin system formed by the Pacific subduction, but this notion contradicts geological observations. Based on topographical features, seismic exploration profiles, restoration of basin tectonic evolution history, paleomagnetic measurements and paleontological evidence, we systematically analyzed the tectonic migration of the Pearl River Mouth Basin, the Taiwan Southwestern Basin, the East China Sea Basin and the Okinawa Trough. The results showed that the Japanese continental plate drifted from two regions in the Cenozoic: Hokkaido came from the equator; and Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu came from the edge of the South China continent. The genetic mechanism is closely related to the eastward drifting of the Eurasian plate splitting from the North Atlantic, and India’s collision with the Eurasian plate. In the process, the Japanese islands on the eastern edge of the Eurasian plate first cracked, then drifted. This new continental drift model can reasonably explain the formation mechanism and process of the trench arc basin system. It can also explain the formation mechanisms of the arcshaped island arc and the rich oil and gas deposits in the basin. This study provides a new dynamic mechanism for the continental drift model.

Key words: genesis of Japan, continental drift, dynamic mechanism, East China Sea Basin, Pearl River Mouth Basin

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