Accreted oceanic materials in Japan

Y. Isozaki, S. Maruyama, F. Furuoka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

464 Citations (Scopus)


The Phanerozoic circum-Pacific orogenic belts contain numerous ocean-derived materials accreted through plate converging processes. Japanese Islands, in particular, display various kinds of oceanic materials of different origins including fragments of seamounts, oceanic reef limestone, MORB-like rocks and oceanic mantle, and pelagic sediments. The compilation of these rocks in many subduction complexes of Late Permian to the present, led to following conclusions. Accretion processes work effectively only for materials primarily composing the upper portion of subducting oceanic crust, i.e. Layer 1 and Layer 2. Many fragments of seamount with alkali basalt (600), hot-spot seamount (26), oceanic reef limestone (291), MORB-like basalt (200), and numerous cherts (more than 1000) are recognized as ancient oceanic materials accreted to the Japanese Islands. However, gabbros and mantle materials of Layer 3 and lower parts of the oceanic lithosphere, scarcely occur in subduction-accretion complexes except for a few examples of back-arc basin or fore-arc origin. Accretion occurs episodically. In Southwest Japan, oceanic materials were accreted intermittently in 1. (a) end-Permian, 2. (b) Middle-Late Jurassic, 3. (c) Late Cretaceous times, 4. (d) at ca. 50 Ma, and 5. (e) in Miocene times, while in Northeast Japan and Hokkaido this occurred in (b) Middle-Late Jurassic, (c) Late Cretaceous, and (f) Early Cretaceous times. In contrast to the general belief on accretion of younger oceanic plates, the majority of Japanese subduction-accretion complexes were formed during the subduction of plates, up to 160 Ma old. The accretionary events in end-Permian and Middle-Late Jurassic times coincide with northward collision of ancient island arcs, oceanic rises or seamount chains (of hot-spot origin) with the Asian continent. Accretion relevant to subduction of older plates may be controlled by the collision-subduction process of these topographic reliefs on an oceanic plate. In addition, the chronological coincidence with the continent collision-amalgamation between the Sino-Korean and Siberian platforms and between the Sino-Korean and Yangtze blocks, also implies collision-induced voluminous supply of elastics from back-arc regions and its contribution to the formation of huge accretionary complexes. Accreted fragments of ancient seamounts are much smaller than the average size of modern seamounts. This implies that most parts of a colliding seamount are not accreted but subducted together with the underlying oceanic crust to much deeper levels. With respect to the metamorphic grades for Japanese subduction complexes, oceanic materials have less than 1 vol.% in the zeolite facies, 15-20% in the prehnite-pumpellyite metagraywacke facies, and ca. 30% in the greenschist/glaucophane schist facies and albite-epidote amphibolite fades. This relationship indicates that the major process for landward accretion of oceanic materials is not off-scraping or sedimentary mixing at the trench, but underplating (subcretion) at much deeper levels of a subduction zone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-205
Number of pages27
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - Sept 10 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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