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Origins of Japan—the 'Big Picture' Revisited: A Review of New Plate Tectonics Research

Gina L. Barnes
Japan Review
No. 25 (2013), pp. 169-184
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41959190
Page Count: 16
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Origins of Japan—the 'Big Picture' Revisited: A Review of New Plate Tectonics Research
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Abstract

This review essay mainly compares two articles by G.L. Barnes on Japanese geology, previously published in Japan Review (2003, 2008), with a series of articles on 'New Paradigms' in Japanese plate tectonics published in Chigaku zasshi in 2009–2010. The first purpose is to update and add new details to flesh out the previous Japan Review overviews. A discussion about collisional and accretionary tectonics then follows, outlining problems of interpretation by scholars coming from different academic backgrounds (Alpine geology and subduction-zone geology). This text is highly technical, based on the previous offerings which should be read first. Japanese geologists are forging ahead in determining new ways to measure and interpret geological processes in a subduction zone. The Japanese archipelago, composed of twenty seven geological belts, is affected by movement of four different plates: two oceanic plates subducting under the main islands, and the islands themselves apportioned between two continental plates. The 500 million year history of the formation of the Japanese landmass is of great general and theoretical interest but not well covered in formal textbooks. Thus, scientific papers such as the Chigaku zasshi offerings in Japanese as well as those in English published in the prominent geology journals must be synthesized to gain an understanding of this region. Since these subduction-zone movements have given rise to modern volcanoes and earthquakes, that understanding forms a crucial background for disaster management. New research mentioned herein includes zircon-dating of sediments in accretionary complexes, identification of "second continent" formations in the mantle, and tectonic erosion/accretion alternation.

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