The IGCP is a cooperative enterprise of UNESCO and the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS). IGCP support for Project 524 Arc-continent collision: benefiting human society through an enhanced understanding of plate tectonic processes is greatfully acknowledged.
One of the key areas of basic research among Earth Scientists are processes that occurred, and are occurring today, along the boundaries of the tectonic plates that make up Earth’s lithosphere. Of particular importance are the processes of tectonic accretion (the addition of material) along constructive plate boundaries. These processes have occurred throughout geological time, and still occur today. One of the principal mechanisms of accretion, which leads to continental crustal growth, occurs when an intra-oceanic volcanic arc that formed above a subduction zone (where one plate slides beneath another) collides with the margin of a continent.
The proposed project aims to enhance the basic understanding of this important plate tectonic process and by doing so provide an advanced model that can be used to societies benefit. For example, zones of arc-continent collision are producers of much of the worlds primary economic wealth, especially in the form of minerals. The proposed project will provide key new data and insights that will help to advance the understanding of how, when, and where volcanic-hosted mineral deposits form and are preserved, thereby helping to develop models for mineral exploration. Furthermore, zones of active arc-continent collision are among some of the most populated in the world, as well as among the most seismically active. They are, therefore, zones of high geological risk both for people and for infrastructure. The proposed project will provide an enhanced tectonic model for arc-continent collision zones that can be used to better understand the risks posed by seismic shaking or landslides.
Understanding the geological processes that take place in the Earth’s
lithosphere is therefore not only of importance for our understanding
of how collisional orogens evolve and how the continental crust grows,
but it is also of significant importance in understanding how its mineral
wealth is formed and preserved, and what the geological risks are for
those who live along these active plate boundaries.