Ancient Suture Zones Within Continents

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Science  03 Jul 1981:
Vol. 213, Issue 4503, pp. 41-46
DOI: 10.1126/science.213.4503.41


Ancient suture belts within continents are deformed regions which contain the remnants of former ocean basins. They form when two continents or island arcs that earlier were separated by an ocean basin converge and collide during plate tectonic activity. These belts provide the only record we have of deep oceanic crust and of ancient sea-floor processes for the first 94 percent of the earth's history, that is, prior to the oldest preserved crust in the oceans. Ten criteria for the recognition and interpretation of these ancient belts are discussed. A comprehensive program for the study of these belts should have great scientific and economic benefit for the United States and would be relatively cheap compared to other large national scientific efforts.

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