University of Tasmania

File(s) not publicly available

Collision tectonics in the New Hebrides arc (Vanuatu)

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 13:18 authored by Sebastien MeffreSebastien Meffre, Anthony CrawfordAnthony Crawford
The New Hebrides island arc in Vanuatu has been significantly modified by collision with several major submarine ridges and plateaux. Bathymetric sections taken at intervals along the arc, perpendicular to the trench, show that prior to collision at 3 Ma the morphology was typical of modern intraoceanic island arcs. Collision has caused uplift of the trench and forearc (up to 6000 m), subsidence around the arc volcanic edifices (up to 2500 m), forming a large intra-arc basin and uplift of the arc-backarc transition (up to 2000 m). In the transition zone between collisional and non-collisional sections of the arc, subsidence occurs in the forearc and uplift occurs around the arc volcanoes. Many of these characteristics are typical of collisions in other Western Pacific island arcs such as the Tonga-Kermadec and Izu-Bonin arcs. The pattern of uplift and subsidence has important implications for the tectonic history of the New Hebrides system. The morphology of the arc shows that collision of the West Torres Massif probably accounts for at least half the uplift. Arrival at 0.7 Ma of the West Torres Massif in the trench may have caused the slowing of subduction in the entire northern half of the arc and not just in the central segment as previously suggested. Re-equilibration of the arc following collision probably masks any evidence of collision prior to 3 Ma. For example, the Efate re-entrant, a large indentation in the arc immediately to the south of the collision zone, probably originated as a result of erosion during collision followed by subsidence after collision. The Vanuatu collision shows that the subduction of seamounts and ridges in an intraoceanic arc temporarily changes the arc morphology, allowing the development of angular unconformities and changing the pattern of sedimentation. This provides information which can be used to facilitate recognition of these events in ancient arc-related sequences.


Publication title

The Island Arc








School of Natural Sciences


Blackwell Science Asia

Place of publication

Carlton, Victoria, Australia

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences

Usage metrics

    University Of Tasmania


    Ref. manager