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An orogeny is an event that leads to both structural deformation and compositional differentiation of the Earth's lithosphere (crust and uppermost mantle) at convergent plate margins. An orogen or orogenic belt develops when a continental plate crumples and is uplifted to form one or more mountain ranges; this involves a series of geological processes collectively called orogenesis.A synorogenic event is one that occurs during an orogeny.
Orogeny is the primary mechanism by which mountains are built on continents. The word "orogeny" ( // ) comes from Ancient Greek (ὄρος, óros, lit. ''mountain'' + γένεσις, génesis, lit.''creation, origin''). Although it was used before him, the term was employed by the American geologist G.K. Gilbert in 1890 to describe the process of mountain-building as distinguished from epeirogeny.
Orogeny takes place because of convergence of tectonic plates. This may take the form of subduction (where a continent rides forcefully over an oceanic plate to form an accretionary orogeny) or continental collision (convergence of two or more continents to form a collisional orogeny).
Orogeny typically produces orogenic belts, which are elongated regions of deformation bordering continental cratons. Young orogenic belts, in which subduction is still taking place, are characterized by frequent volcanic activity and earthquakes. Older orogenic belts are typically deeply eroded to expose displaced and deformed strata. These are often highly metamorphosed and include vast bodies of intrusive igneous rock called batholiths.
Orogenic belts are associated with subduction zones, which consume crust, thicken lithosphere, produce earthquake and volcanoes, and often build island arcs. These island arcs may be added to a continental margin during an accretionary orogeny. The orogeny may culminate with continental crust from the opposite side of the subducting oceanic plate arriving at the subduction zone. This ends subduction and transforms the accretional orogeny into a collisional orogeny.The collisional orogeny may produce extremely high mountains, as has been taking place in the Himalayas for the last 65 million years.
The processes of orogeny can take tens of millions of years and build mountains from what were once sedimentary basins.Activity along an orogenic belt can be extremely long-lived. For example, much of the basement underlying the United States belongs to the Transcontinental Proterozoic Provinces, which accreted to Laurentia (the ancient heart of North America) over the course of 200 million years in the Paleoproterozoic. The Yavapai and Mazatzal orogenies were peaks of orogenic activity during this time. These were part of an extended period of orogenic activity that included the Picuris orogeny and culminated in the Grenville orogeny, lasting at least 600 million years. A similar sequence of orogenies has taken place on the west coast of North America, beginning in the late Devonian (about 380 million years ago) with the Antler orogeny and continuing with the Sonoma orogeny and Sevier orogeny and culminating with the Laramide orogeny. The Laramide orogeny alone lasted 40 million years, from 75 million to 35 million years ago.
The topographic height of orogenic mountains is related to the principle of isostasy,that is, a balance of the downward gravitational force upon an upthrust mountain range (composed of light, continental crust material) and the buoyant upward forces exerted by the dense underlying mantle. Erosion of overlying strata in orogenic belts, and isostatic adjustment to the removal of this overlying mass of rock, can bring deeply buried strata to the surface. The erosional process is called unroofing and the resulting exposure of formerly deeply buried strata is called exhumation.
An orogenic event may be studied: (a) as a tectonic structural event, (b) as a geographical event, and (c) as a chronological event.
In general, there are two main types of orogens at convergent plate margins: (1) accretionary orogens, which are produced by subduction of one oceanic plate beneath one continental plate to result in either continental arc magmatism or the accretion of island arc terranes to continental margins; (2) collisional orogens, which are produced by collision between two continental blocks, with subduction of one continental block beneath the other continental block.
An orogeny produces an orogen, but a (mountain) range- foreland basin system is only produced on passive plate margins. The foreland basin forms ahead of the orogen due mainly to loading and resulting flexure of the lithosphere by the developing mountain belt. A typical foreland basin is subdivided into a wedge-top basin above the active orogenic wedge, the foredeep immediately beyond the active front, a forebulge high of flexural origin and a back-bulge area beyond, although not all of these are present in all foreland-basin systems. The basin migrates with the orogenic front and early deposited foreland basin sediments become progressively involved in folding and thrusting. Sediments deposited in the foreland basin are mainly derived from the erosion of the actively uplifting rocks of the mountain range, although some sediments derive from the foreland. The fill of many such basins shows a change in time from deepwater marine ( flysch -style) through shallow water to continental ( molasse -style) sediments.
Although orogeny involves plate tectonics, the tectonic forces result in a variety of associated phenomena, including crustal deformation, crustal thickening, crustal thinning and crustal melting as well as magmatism, metamorphism and mineralization. What exactly happens in a specific orogen depends upon the strength and rheology of the continental lithosphere, and how these properties change during orogenesis.
In addition to orogeny, the orogen (once formed) is subject to other processes, such as sedimentation and erosion.The sequence of repeated cycles of sedimentation, deposition and erosion, followed by burial and metamorphism, and then by crustal anatexis to form granitic batholiths and tectonic uplift to form mountain chains, is called the orogenic cycle. For example, the Caledonian Orogeny refers to a series of tectonic events due to the continental collision of Laurentia with Eastern Avalonia and other former fragments of Gondwana in the Early Paleozoic. The Caledonian Orogen resulted from these events and various others that are part of its peculiar orogenic cycle.
In summary, an orogeny is an episode of deformation, metamorphism and magmatism at convergent plate margins, during which many geological processes play a role at convergent plate margins. Every orogeny has its own orogenic cycle, but composite orogenesis is common at convergent plate margins.
Erosion represents a subsequent phase of the orogenic cycle. Erosion inevitably removes much of the mountains, exposing the core or mountain roots (metamorphic rocks brought to the surface from a depth of several kilometres). Isostatic movements may help such exhumation by balancing out the buoyancy of the evolving orogen. Scholars debate about the extent to which erosion modifies the patterns of tectonic deformation (see erosion and tectonics). Thus, the final form of the majority of old orogenic belts is a long arcuate strip of crystalline metamorphic rocks sequentially below younger sediments which are thrust atop them and which dip away from the orogenic core.
An orogen may be almost completely eroded away, and only recognizable by studying (old) rocks that bear traces of orogenesis. Orogens are usually long, thin, arcuate tracts of rock that have a pronounced linear structure resulting in terranes or blocks of deformed rocks, separated generally by suture zones or dipping thrust faults. These thrust faults carry relatively thin slices of rock (which are called nappes or thrust sheets, and differ from tectonic plates) from the core of the shortening orogen out toward the margins, and are intimately associated with folds and the development of metamorphism.
In the 1950s and 1960s the study of orogeny, coupled with biogeography (the study of the distribution and evolution of flora and fauna), [ need quotation to verify ] [ need quotation to verify ]geography and mid ocean ridges, contributed greatly to the theory of plate tectonics. Even at a very early stage, life played a significant role in the continued existence of oceans, by affecting the composition of the atmosphere. The existence of oceans is critical to sea-floor spreading and subduction.
Mountain formation occurs through a number of mechanisms.
Mountain complexes result from irregular successions of tectonic responses due to sea-floor spreading, shifting lithosphere plates, transform faults, and colliding, coupled and uncoupled continental margins.
Large modern orogenies often lie on the margins of present-day continents; the Alleghenian (Appalachian), Laramide, and Andean orogenies exemplify this in the Americas. Older inactive orogenies, such as the Algoman, Penokean and Antler, are represented by deformed and metamorphosed rocks with sedimentary basins further inland.
Areas that are rifting apart, such as mid-ocean ridges and the East African Rift, have mountains due to thermal buoyancy related to the hot mantle underneath them; this thermal buoyancy is known as dynamic topography. In strike-slip orogens, such as the San Andreas Fault, restraining bends result in regions of localized crustal shortening and mountain building without a plate-margin-wide orogeny. Hotspot volcanism results in the formation of isolated mountains and mountain chains that look as if they are not necessarily on present tectonic-plate boundaries, but they are essentially the product of plate tectonism.
Regions can also experience uplift as a result of delamination of the orogenic lithosphere, in which an unstable portion of cold lithospheric root drips down into the asthenospheric mantle, decreasing the density of the lithosphere and causing buoyant uplift.An example is the Sierra Nevada in California. This range of fault-block mountains experienced renewed uplift due to abundant magmatism after a delamination of the orogenic root beneath them.
Finally, uplift and erosion related to epeirogenesis (large-scale vertical motions of portions of continents without much associated folding, metamorphism, or deformation)can create local topographic highs.
Mount Rundle on the Trans-Canada Highway between Banff and Canmore provides a classic example of a mountain cut in dipping-layered rocks. Millions of years ago a collision caused an orogeny, forcing horizontal layers of an ancient ocean crust to be thrust up at an angle of 50–60°. That left Rundle with one sweeping, tree-lined smooth face, and one sharp, steep face where the edge of the uplifted layers are exposed.
Before the development of geologic concepts during the 19th century, the presence of marine fossils in mountains was explained in Christian contexts as a result of the Biblical Deluge. This was an extension of Neoplatonic thought, which influenced early Christian writers.[ citation needed ]
The 13th-century Dominican scholar Albert the Great posited that, as erosion was known to occur, there must be some process whereby new mountains and other land-forms were thrust up, or else there would eventually be no land; he suggested that marine fossils in mountainsides must once have been at the sea-floor. Orogeny was used by Amanz Gressly (1840) and Jules Thurmann (1854) as orogenic in terms of the creation of mountain elevations, as the term mountain building was still used to describe the processes. Elie de Beaumont (1852) used the evocative "Jaws of a Vise" theory to explain orogeny, but was more concerned with the height rather than the implicit structures created by and contained in orogenic belts. His theory essentially held that mountains were created by the squeezing of certain rocks. Eduard Suess (1875) recognised the importance of horizontal movement of rocks. The concept of a precursor geosyncline or initial downward warping of the solid earth (Hall, 1859) prompted James Dwight Dana (1873) to include the concept of compression in the theories surrounding mountain-building. With hindsight, we can discount Dana's conjecture that this contraction was due to the cooling of the Earth (aka the cooling Earth theory). The cooling Earth theory was the chief paradigm for most geologists until the 1960s. It was, in the context of orogeny, fiercely contested by proponents of vertical movements in the crust (similar to tephrotectonics), or convection within the asthenosphere or mantle.
Gustav Steinmann (1906) recognised different classes of orogenic belts, including the Alpine type orogenic belt, typified by a flysch and molasse geometry to the sediments; ophiolite sequences, tholeiitic basalts, and a nappe style fold structure.
In terms of recognising orogeny as an event, Leopold von Buch (1855) recognised that orogenies could be placed in time by bracketing between the youngest deformed rock and the oldest undeformed rock, a principle which is still in use today, though commonly investigated by geochronology using radiometric dating.
Based on available observations from the metamorphic differences in orogenic belts of Europe and North America, H. J. Zwart (1967)proposed three types of orogens in relationship to tectonic setting and style: Cordillerotype, Alpinotype, and Hercynotype. His proposal was revised by W. S. Pitcher in 1979 in terms of the relationship to granite occurrences. Cawood et al. (2009) categorized orogenic belts into three types: accretionary, collisional, and intracratonic. Notice that both accretionary and collisional orogens developed in converging plate margins. In contrast, Hercynotype orogens generally show similar features to intracratonic, intracontinental, extensional, and ultrahot orogens, all of which developed in continental detachment systems at converged plate margins.
The Alps form part of a Cenozoic orogenic belt of mountain chains, called the Alpide belt, that stretches through southern Europe and Asia from the Atlantic all the way to the Himalayas. This belt of mountain chains was formed during the Alpine orogeny. A gap in these mountain chains in central Europe separates the Alps from the Carpathians to the east. Orogeny took place continuously and tectonic subsidence has produced the gaps in between.
Obduction is the overthrusting of continental crust by oceanic crust or mantle rocks at a convergent plate boundary, such as closing of an ocean or a mountain building episode. This process is uncommon because the denser oceanic lithosphere usually subducts underneath the less dense continental plate.
An ophiolite is a section of Earth's oceanic crust and the underlying upper mantle that has been uplifted and exposed above sea level and often emplaced onto continental crustal rocks.
A convergent boundary is an area on Earth where two or more lithospheric plates collide. One plate eventually slides beneath the other, a process known as subduction. The subduction zone can be defined by a plane where many earthquakes occur, called the Wadati–Benioff zone. These collisions happen on scales of millions to tens of millions of years and can lead to volcanism, earthquakes, orogenesis, destruction of lithosphere, and deformation. Convergent boundaries occur between oceanic-oceanic lithosphere, oceanic-continental lithosphere, and continental-continental lithosphere. The geologic features related to convergent boundaries vary depending on crust types.
Tectonics are the processes that control the structure and properties of the Earth's crust and its evolution through time. These include the processes of mountain building, the growth and behavior of the strong, old cores of continents known as cratons, and the ways in which the relatively rigid plates that constitute the Earth's outer shell interact with each other. Tectonics also provide a framework for understanding the earthquake and volcanic belts that directly affect much of the global population.
A forearc is the region between an oceanic trench and the associated volcanic arc. Forearc regions are found at convergent margins, and include any accretionary wedge and forearc basin that may be present. Due to tectonic stresses as one tectonic plate rides over another, forearc regions are sources for great thrust earthquakes.
Tectonic uplift is the geologic uplift of Earth's surface that is attributed to plate tectonics. While isostatic response is important, an increase in the mean elevation of a region can only occur in response to tectonic processes of crustal thickening, changes in the density distribution of the crust and underlying mantle, and flexural support due to the bending of rigid lithosphere.
The Acadian orogeny is a long-lasting mountain building event which began in the Middle Devonian, reaching a climax in the early Late Devonian. It was active for approximately 50 million years, beginning roughly around 375 million years ago, with deformational, plutonic, and metamorphic events extending into the Early Mississippian. The Acadian orogeny is the third of the four orogenies that created the Appalachian orogen and subsequent basin. The preceding orogenies consisted of the Potomac and Taconic orogeny, which followed a rift/drift stage in the Late Neoproterozoic. The Acadian orogeny involved the collision of a series of Avalonian continental fragments with the Laurasian continent. Geographically, the Acadian orogeny extended from the Canadian Maritime provinces migrating in a southwesterly direction toward Alabama. However, the Northern Appalachian region, from New England northeastward into Gaspé region of Canada, was the most greatly affected region by the collision.
The Antler orogeny was a tectonic event that began in the early Late Devonian with widespread effects continuing into the Mississippian and early Pennsylvanian. Most of the evidence for this event is in Nevada but the limits of its reach are unknown. A great volume of conglomeratic deposits of mainly Mississippian age in Nevada and adjacent areas testifies to the existence of an important tectonic event, and implies nearby areas of uplift and erosion, but the nature and cause of that event are uncertain and in dispute. Although it is known as an orogeny, some of the classic features of orogeny as commonly defined such as metamorphism, and granitic intrusives have not been linked to it. In spite of this, the event is universally designated as an orogeny and that practice is continued here. This article outlines what is known and unknown about the Antler orogeny and describes three current theories regarding its nature and origin.
Continental collision is a phenomenon of the plate tectonics of Earth that occurs at convergent boundaries. Continental collision is a variation on the fundamental process of subduction, whereby the subduction zone is destroyed, mountains produced, and two continents sutured together. Continental collision is only known to occur on Earth.
The Grenville orogeny was a long-lived Mesoproterozoic mountain-building event associated with the assembly of the supercontinent Rodinia. Its record is a prominent orogenic belt which spans a significant portion of the North American continent, from Labrador to Mexico, as well as to Scotland.
A foreland basin is a structural basin that develops adjacent and parallel to a mountain belt. Foreland basins form because the immense mass created by crustal thickening associated with the evolution of a mountain belt causes the lithosphere to bend, by a process known as lithospheric flexure. The width and depth of the foreland basin is determined by the flexural rigidity of the underlying lithosphere, and the characteristics of the mountain belt. The foreland basin receives sediment that is eroded off the adjacent mountain belt, filling with thick sedimentary successions that thin away from the mountain belt. Foreland basins represent an endmember basin type, the other being rift basins. Space for sediments is provided by loading and downflexure to form foreland basins, in contrast to rift basins, where accommodation space is generated by lithospheric extension.
An accretionary wedge or accretionary prism forms from sediments accreted onto the non-subducting tectonic plate at a convergent plate boundary. Most of the material in the accretionary wedge consists of marine sediments scraped off from the downgoing slab of oceanic crust, but in some cases the wedge includes the erosional products of volcanic island arcs formed on the overriding plate.
The Trans-Hudson orogeny or Trans-Hudsonian orogeny was the major mountain building event (orogeny) that formed the Precambrian Canadian Shield, the North American Craton, and the forging of the initial North American continent. It gave rise to the Trans-Hudson orogen (THO), or Trans-Hudson Orogen Transect (THOT), which is the largest Paleoproterozoic orogenic belt in the world. It consists of a network of belts that were formed by Proterozoic crustal accretion and the collision of pre-existing Archean continents. The event occurred 2.0-1.8 billion years ago.
The Rhenohercynian Zone or Rheno-Hercynian zone in structural geology describes a fold belt of west and central Europe, formed during the Hercynian orogeny. The zone consists of folded and thrusted Devonian and early Carboniferous sedimentary rocks that were deposited in a back-arc basin along the southern margin of the then existing paleocontinent Laurussia.
The Andean orogeny is an ongoing process of orogeny that began in the Early Jurassic and is responsible for the rise of the Andes mountains. The orogeny is driven by a reactivation of a long-lived subduction system along the western margin of South America. On a continental scale the Cretaceous and Oligocene were periods of re-arrangements in the orogeny. Locally the details of the nature of the orogeny varies depending on the segment and the geological period considered.
Ultra-high-pressure metamorphism refers to metamorphic processes at pressures high enough to stabilize coesite, the high-pressure polymorph of SiO2. It is important because the processes that form and exhume ultra-high-pressure (UHP) metamorphic rocks may strongly affect plate tectonics, the composition and evolution of Earth's crust. The discovery of UHP metamorphic rocks in 1984 revolutionized our understanding of plate tectonics. Prior to 1984 there was little suspicion that continental rocks could reach such high pressures.
In geology, the term exhumation refers to the process by which a parcel of rock, approaches Earth's surface.
The geology of Sicily records the collision of the Eurasian and the African plates during westward-dipping subduction of the African slab since late Oligocene. Major tectonic units are the Hyblean foreland, the Gela foredeep, the Apenninic-Maghrebian orogen, and the Calabrian Arc. The orogen represents a fold-thrust belt that folds Mesozoic carbonates, while a major volcanic unit is found in an eastern portion of the island. The collision of Africa and Eurasia is a retreating subduction system, such that the descending Africa is falling away from Eurasia, and Eurasia extends and fills the space as the African plate falls into the mantle, resulting in volcanic activity in Sicily and the formation of Tyrrhenian slab to the north.
The Scandinavian Caledonides are the vestiges of an ancient, today deeply eroded orogenic belt formed during the Silurian–Devonian continental collision of Baltica and Laurentia, which is referred to as the Scandian phase of the Caledonian orogeny. The size of the Scandinavian Caledonides at the time of their formation can be compared with the size of the Himalayas. The area east of the Scandinavian Caledonides, including parts of Finland, developed into a foreland basin where old rocks and surfaces were covered by sediments. Today, the Scandinavian Caledonides underlay most of the western and northern Scandinavian Peninsula, whereas other parts of the Caledonides can be traced into West and Central Europe as well as parts of Greenland and eastern North America.
Continental drift and plate tectonics help to explain both the similarities and the differences in the distribution of plants and animals over the continentsand John C Briggs (1987). Biogeography and Plate Tectonics. Elsevier. p. 131. ISBN 978-0-444-42743-4.
It will not be possible to construct a thorough account of the history of the southern hemisphere without the evidence from both the biological and the earth sciences
Without denudation, even relatively low uplift rates as characteristic of epeirogenetic movements (e.g. 20m/MA) would generate highly elevated regions in geological time periods.
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