Cretaceous to Miocene NW Pacific Plate Kinematic Constraints: Paleomagnetism and Ar–Ar Geochronology in the Mineoka Ophiolite Mélange (Japan)


The Mineoka Ophiolite Mélange is located at the intersection of the Pacific, Philippine Sea, Eurasian, and North American plates. The Mineoka ophiolite origin is disputed, and it has been ascribed to a fully subducted plate or part of the Pacific and Philippine Sea plates. In this paper, we present a kinematic reconstruction of the Mineoka Ophiolite Mélange and its relation with the Pacific Plate, based on new paleomagnetic data and bulk‐rock 40Ar/39Ar ages of basaltic rocks. In addition to standard analyses for paleolatitudes, we performed a Net tectonic rotation analysis on sheeted dolerite dikes to infer the paleospreading direction that formed the ophiolite. The analysis shows that 85–80 Ma MOR pillow basalts erupted at a paleolatitude of N ∼16°, whereas ∼50 Ma basalts formed at N ∼34°. Net Tectonic Rotation analysis suggests that the spreading direction was NE 60°. Ar–Ar ages yielded 53–49 Ma for MORBs and 41–35 Ma for island‐arc basalts. The formation of this ophiolite occurred in the back‐arc spreading of the Nemuro–Olyutorsky arcs of the NW Pacific. It infers that the final consumption of Izanagi below Japan instigated a subduction jump and flipped its polarity. Subduction initiated parallel to the ridge, and a piece of the original back‐arc crust got trapped near the Japan trench during the northwards motion of the Philippine Sea Plate. The contrasting motion between the Pacific and the Philippine Sea plates generated a highly unstable setting followed by a subduction zone that left a small‐sized and short‐lived plate (“Mineoka”), surrounded by subduction zones.

Gondwana Research, IN PRESS; DOI:10.1016/