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Evidence for transform margin evolution from the Ivory Coast–Ghana continental margin


The relative motions between lithospheric plates can be reduced to three major types: convergence, divergence and transform motion. Convergence leads to an active margin (and eventual collision); divergence results in the construction of a rifted (passive) margin; transform motion generates a transform (or sheared) margin. Although passive margins have been extensively studied1,2, and many models have been proposed for their origin and subsequent evolution3–5, little is known about transform margins, with the exception of a few studies of their morphologies6,7, shallow structures or crustal sections8,9. Here we present the main conclusions derived from a recent study of the northern Gulf of Guinea margins, particularly off the eastern Ivory Coast and Ghana, where the continental margin is one of the best-preserved examples of an extinct transform margin10–12. Our observations support a four-stage model for transform margin evolution. Technically active transform contacts, first between normal continental crusts and then between thinned margins, induce characteristic structures such as pull-apart grabens and shear folds. The next stage, in which thermal exchange between oceanic and continental lithos-pheres controls a complex subsidence, is followed by the transition to a true intra-oceanic fracture zone.

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Mascle, J., Blarez, E. Evidence for transform margin evolution from the Ivory Coast–Ghana continental margin . Nature 326, 378–381 (1987).

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