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Nature 289, 276 - 278 (22 January 1981); doi:10.1038/289276a0

Was the Laramide orogeny related to subduction of an oceanic plateau?

Richard F. Livaccari, Kevin Burke & A. M. C. Şengör

Department of Geological Sciences, State University of New York at Albany, Albany, New York 12222

Numerous models have been presented to explain the late Cretaceous/early Cenozoic Laramide orogeny, which affected the foreland region of the western cordillera within the US1. The most attractive models invoke low-angle subduction2–4, which can develop for various reasons5,6. Evidence from South America indicates that one such reason may be the subduction of buoyant ocean floor. We here extend the low-angle subduction models by attributing the shallowing of the subduction angle during the Laramide orogeny to subduction of a large oceanic plateau of anomalously thick and buoyant oceanic crust. Pacific plate history indicates that a twin to the Hess Rise may represent the oceanic plateau that triggered Laramide events.

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