Pacific-type orogeny (PTO) has long been recognized as a contrasting accretionary alternative to continent-continent collisional orogeny. However, since the original concept was proposed, there have many new developments, which make it timely to produce a new re-evaluated model, in which we emphasize the following new aspects. First, substantial growth of Tonarite–Trondhjemite–Granite (TTG) crust, and second the reductive effect of tectonic erosion. The modern analog of a Pacific-type orogen developed through six stages of growth exemplified by specific regions; initial stage 1: the southern end of the Andes; stage 2: exhumation to the mid-crustal level at Indonesia outer arc; stage 3: the Barrovian hydration stage at Kii Peninsula, SW Japan; stage 4: the initial stage of surface exposure of the high-P/T regional metamorphic belt at Olympic Peninsula, south of Seattle, USA; stage 5: exposure of the orogenic core at the surface at the Shimanto metamorphic belt, SW Japan; and stage 6: post-orogenic processes including tectonic erosion at the Mariana and Japan trench and the Nankai trough.
The fundamental framework of a Pacific-type orogen is an accretionary complex, which includes limited ocean floor material, much terrigenous trench sediment, plus island arc, oceanic plateau, and intra-oceanic basaltic material from the ocean. The classic concept of a PTO stresses the importance of the addition within accreted rocks of new subduction-generated arcs and TTGs, which were added along the continental margins particularly during the Cretaceous. Besides the above additional or positive aspects of a PTO, here we emphasize the negative effects of previously little-considered tectonic erosion caused by subduction over time. The evaluation of such extensive tectonic erosion leads a prospect of the presence of huge quantities of TTG material in the lower transition zone, where many subducted slabs have ponded, as illustrated by mantle tomography. This is confirmed by density profiles of the mantle, which show that TTGs are abundant only along the bottom of the upper mantle accompanied by slab peridotite, lherzolite, and MORB. The major velocity anomaly in the lower transition zone is best explained by the predominance of SiO2 phases, hence TTG, and not by MORB or ultramafic rocks. Reasonable calculations indicate that at a depth range of 520-660 km TTG material amounts to 6-7 times more than the total mass of the surface continental crust.
The traditional view is that the Japanese islands evolved since 520 Ma through five Pacific-type orogenies, which grew oceanward, thus creating a continuous accretionary complex ca. 400-500 km wide, with TTG growth at the continental side of each orogen. However, the subducting oceanic lithosphere has produced five times more TTG crust compared with the present TTG crust in the Japan islands. This is explained by the fact that over time tectonic erosion has dominated the increasing arc-TTG crust. Accordingly, Japan has lost four arc-TTG crusts to tectonic erosion. TTG material, such as trench sediment, arc crust, and continental margin crust, was fragmented by tectonic erosion and transported into the bottom of the upper mantle at depths of 520-660 km. Worldwide data suggest that tectonic erosion destroyed and fragmented most of the Pacific-type orogens.
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