Cenozoic lithospheric deformation in Northeast Asia and the rapidly-aging Pacific Plate

Ting Yang, Louis Moresi, Dapeng Zhao, Dan Sandiford, Joanne Whittaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Northeast Asia underwent widespread rifting and magmatic events during the Cenozoic. The geodynamic origins of these tectonic events are often linked to Pacific plate subduction beneath Northeast Asia. However, the Japan Sea did not open until the late Oligocene, tens of millions of years after Pacific Plate subduction initiation in the Paleocene. Moreover, it is still not clear why the Baikal Rift Zone extension rate increased significantly after the late Miocene, while the Japan Sea opening ceased at the same time. Geodynamic models suggest these enigmatic events are related to the rapidly-aging Pacific Plate at the trench after Izanagi–Pacific spreading ridge subduction. Subduction of the young Pacific Plate delayed the Japan Sea opening during the Eocene while advection of the old Pacific Plate towards the trench increases seafloor age rapidly, allowing the Japan Sea to open after the early Miocene. The Japan Sea opening promotes fast trench retreat and slab stagnation, with subduction-induced wedge zone convection gradually increasing its extent during this process. The active rifting center associated with wedge zone convection upwelling also shifts inland-ward during slab stagnation, preventing further Japan Sea spreading while promoting the Baikal Rift Zone extension. Our geodynamic model provides a good explanation for the temporal-spatial patterns of the Cenozoic tectonic and magmatic events in Northeast Asia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jun 15


  • Baikal Rift Zone
  • Japan Sea
  • Northeast Asia
  • stagnant slab
  • subduction
  • tectonics


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