Quantifying crustal extension and shortening in the back-arc region of Northeast Japan

Shinsuke Okada, Yasutaka Ikeda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


The Northeast Japan (NEJ) arc has experienced strong extension in the early to middle Miocene time and contractive deformation since Pliocene time. We determine the amounts of the Miocene extension and Pliocene contraction along four transects across the NEJ arc by area-balancing restoration using seismic reflection, gravity, and surface geologic data. We find that the Miocene extension is as much as 31-56 km while the Pliocene-Quaternary contraction is only 10-15 km. The style of the Miocene extension in the back-arc region of NEJ is highly asymmetric; the zone of concentrated extension is characterized by a breakaway fault on the west, a rollover basement anticline on the east, and abnormally deep (∼10 km) basins and strongly rotated fault blocks in between, suggesting the existence of a large-scale detachment fault at a mid-crustal level beneath the extended zone. We reveal that the Pliocene-Quaternary contractive surface deformation in the back-arc region of NEJ resulted principally from positive tectonic inversion of the underlying detachment fault. Previous works have suggested that Andean-type orogens have often experienced negative and positive inversions alternately in their back-arc regions. Although the former has been well documented, for example, for the Cenozoic North American Cordillera, the latter has rarely been reported because subsequent contraction has obscured the older structures. Since the NEJ arc is still at an incipient stage and hence its older structures are well preserved, our study provides an important example of positive tectonic inversion of Andean-type orogens.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberB01404
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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