South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3AN, UK

44-(0) 1865-272032

44-(0) 1865-272067

Prof. Anthony B. Watts

Professor of Marine Geology and Geophysics

Basin development: Plate processes Vs. dynamic topography


Thermal contraction and uplift, sediment loading, and thrust and fold loading provide a simple and elegant explanation for the stratigraphic "architecture" of many rift-type, foreland and strike-slip sedimentary basins. There is much current debate, however, concerning the role of plate processes compared to other processes such as those associated with subduction induced motions in the mantle in controlling the subsidence history of basins, especially cratonic basins in the plate interiors. This essay will review the evidence that supports the role of plate processes, the models that have been proposed for motions in the mantle, and the methods by which it might be possible to separate the effects of lithospheric flexure and mantle dynamics from the stratigraphic record.


Selected References:

Al-Hajri, Y., N. White, and S. Fishwick (2009), Scales of transient convective support beneath Africa, Geology, 37, 883-886.

Burgess, P. M., and L. N. Moresi (1999), Modelling rates and distribution of subsidence due to dynamic topography over subducting slabs: is it possible to identify dynamic topography from ancient strata?, Basin Research, 11, 305-314.

Downey, N. J., and M. Gurnis (2009), Instantaneous dynamics of the cratonic Congo basin, J. Geophys. Res., 114, doi:10.1029/2008JB006066.

Liu, S.-F., and D. Nummedal (2004), Late Cretaceous subsidence in Wyoming: Quantifying the dynamic component, Geology, 32, 397-400.

Liu, L., S. Spasojevic, and M. Gurnis (2008), Reconstructing Farallon plate subduction beneath North America back to the Late Cretaceous, Science, 322, 934-937.

Spasojevic, S., L. Liu, M. Gurnis, and R. D. Muller (2008), The case for dynamic subsidence of the US east coast since the Eocene, Geophys. Res. Letts., 35, doi:10.1029/2008GL033511.

Watts, A. B. (2001), Isostasy and flexure of the lithosphere, 458 pp., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.