Accretionary Complexes: Recorders of Plate Tectonism and Environmental Conditions Through Time on Earth and Possibly Those Early Noachian (Hadean-equivalent) in Age on Mars
Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 3:10 PM
On Earth, highlighted in Japan, North America, Europe, and Greenland, accretionary complexes comprehensively record information compiled while the oceanic crust is en route from the mid-oceanic ridge to the subduction zone, spanning hundreds of millions of years. At the zone, oceanic crustal materials are stacked along thrust faults and/or subducted to be eventually recycled into the mantle. The surviving accretionary-complex materials include Ocean Plate Stratigraphy (OPS). The ideal succession of the OPS (from oldest to youngest) is mid-ocean ridge basalt, pelagic sediment including radiolarian chert, hemipelagic sediment including siliceous shale, and trench turbidite deposits. Therefore, accretionary complexes often record diverse environmental conditions from deep- to shallow-marine environments, including those perturbed by magmatic, impact, and possibly extrasolar events. Stratigraphic, impact-crater, paleotectonic, and magnetic-anomaly information point to Early Noachian (Hadean-equivalent) Martian geologic terrains; they are extremely ancient environmental records compared to those destroyed on Earth due to differences in planetary mass and evolutional states. Such record a dynamic phase of the evolution of Mars, including interacting ocean, landmass, and atmosphere, as well as possible plate tectonism during an operating dynamo. A candidate accretionary complex and nearby outcrops of steeply dipping beds comprising olistostrome-like blocks, nearby and in the Claritas rise, respectively, may be key evidence of major crustal shortening related to plate tectonism, in addition to being extremely ancient environmental records. Claritas rise is a rugged promontory about 250 km across, which forms the northwest part of an extremely ancient and large mountain range, Thaumasia highlands, with a length nearing 2,400 km, or approximating that of the Himalayas. Future investigation of the ancient Martian basement, which includes geochemical analyses for possible OPS sequences (an important test for the accretionary-complex hypothesis), as well as reconnaissance for other parts of Pacific-type orogenic complexes, which includes metamorphic belts, ophiolite sequences, and belts of felsic materials, will be an important next phase in the geologic investigation of Mars.