Continental breakup and sedimentary basin formation



Earth history is punctuated by continents breaking apart and births of oceans, phenomena occurring today in places such as the high Arctic, East Africa/Red Sea, the Gulf of California, and the western Pacific near Papua New Guinea.

The tectonic, magmatic, geodynamic, and sedimentary processes associated with continental rifting and breakup interact to produce a variety of margin styles of rifting and breakup, ranging from narrow to hyperextended margins, from weakly to strongly magmatic margins, and from sedimentstarved to thickly sedimented margins. The wide variety of styles has puzzled and inspired Earth scientists for generations, who have employed an increasingly diverse and sophisticated set of observational tools to investigate, and conceptual models to explain, continental rifting and breakup.