The processes that generate thinning, extension, and finally rifting of continental crust are often assumed to be either “active” or “passive.” There are two major continental rifting provinces active in the world today: the East African Rift and the Baikal Rift in Siberia. Many authors suspect that the Baikal Rift formed in response to the India-Eurasia collision, which deformed the lithosphere in central Asia creating the Himalayas in the south and an extensional province in Siberia [Molnar and Tapponier, 1975; Tapponier and Molnar, 1979; Zonenshain and Savostin, 1981]. Others believe that the Baikal Rift is primarily an active phenomenon, citing updoming around Lake Baikal and the presence of Cenozoic volcanics as an example of slightly elevated partial melting in the asthenospheric material underneath the lake [Artemyev and Artyushkov, 1971; Zorin, 1971, 1981; Puzyrev et al., 1974; Logatchev et al., 1983].
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