Tectonics of the new Guinea region

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243 Scopus citations


The New Guinea region evolved within the obliquely and rapidly converging Australian and Pacific plate boundary zone. It is arguably one of the most tectonically complex regions of the world, and its geodynamic evolution involved microplate formation and rotation, lithospheric rupture to form ocean basins, arc-continent collision, subduction polarity reversal, collisional orogenesis, ophiolite obduction, and exhumation of (ultra)high-pressure metamorphic rocks. We describe the major onshore and offshore tectonic and geologic components, including plate boundaries, seismicity, faults, and magmatism, and we integrate these with emerging ideas about mantle dynamics to evaluate the Cenozoic tectonic evolution of New Guinea. Future research opportunities to resolve the mantle structure beneath New Guinea will enable mantle dynamics to be linked to lithospheric and surface processes. Virtually all plate tectonic and mantle processes have been active in the New Guinea region throughout the Cenozoic, and, as such, its tectonic evolution has global significance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-520
Number of pages26
JournalAnnual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Blueschists
  • Collisional orogenesis
  • Eclogites
  • Microplates
  • Ophiolites
  • Plate boundaries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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