The Izu-Bonin-Mariana Arc System: International Efforts for Understanding Convergent Margins, Island Arcs, Backarc Basins and Subduction Zones

Convergent margins are one of three kinds of plate tectonic margins, the other two being divergent and transform margins.  Subduction zones are where oceanic lithosphere sinks back into the mantle and are associated with earthquakes, magmatic arcs, and explosive volcanism (see YouTube video for information about subduction zones and magmatic arcs).  There are many convergent margins in the world, the total length of convergent plate margins is about 65,000 km <fig-1>.  The IBM (Izu-Bonin-Mariana) Arc System is an excellent example of a convergent plate margin.  It is 2500 km long convergent margin that extends south from Tokyo, Japan, to Guam, U.S.A.  <fig-2, top>. This system is a natural laboratory for understanding convergent plate margin processes and products, for the following reasons:

More information on these and other aspects of the IBM convergent margin can be found in Stern et al. (2003).

GMTL geoscientists and students have worked on many aspects of the IBM arc system, especially in the Mariana arc.  A map of the Mariana arc system is shown in <fig-4>; a simplified cross-section is shown in <fig-5>.   The Mariana convergent margin has been the focus of GMTL research for almost 40 years.  An annotated map showing the focus of many GMTL published studies of the Mariana convergent margin features is shown in <fig-6> and the references are provided in <gmtl-mariana-studies>.

Further Reading and citations:

Leng, W., and Gurnis, M. 2015. Subduction initiation at relic arcs. Geophysical Research Letters 43, 7014-7021.

Stern, R. J., Bloomer, S. H., 1992. Subduction zone infancy: Examples from the Eocene Izu-Bonin-Mariana and Jurassic California Arcs.  Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 104, 1621-1636.

Stern, R.J., Fouch, M.J., and Klemperer, S., 2003. An Overview of the Izu-Bonin-Mariana Subduction Factory in J. Eiler and M. Hirschmann (eds.) Inside the Subduction Factory, Geophysical Monograph 138, American Geophysical Union, 175-222.

The translation to Czech language can be found at