Caroline Plate

The Caroline Plate is a minor tectonic plate that straddles the Equator in the eastern hemisphere located north of New Guinea. It forms a subduction zone along the border with the Bird's Head Plate and the Woodlark Plate to the south. A transform boundary forms the northern border with the Pacific Plate. Along the border with the Philippine Sea Plate is a convergent boundary that transitions into a rift.

The Caroline Plate was first proposed as a distinct plate by Weissel & Anderson 1978.

Caroline Plate
The Caroline Plate
Approximate area1,700,000 km2[1]
FeaturesPacific Ocean
1Relative to the African Plate

Geological setting

A separate terrane with its own tectonic history, the Caroline Plate has been considered part of the Pacific Plate because of sparse seismicity and low velocities along its boundaries. It includes the West and East Caroline basins and the inactive Eauripik Rise separating them, but neither the Caroline Islands nor the Caroline Ridge. It is subducting under the Bird's Head and Woodlark plates along the New Guinea Trench to the south.[2]

The boundary with the Philippine Sea to the west has two segments: the southern segment, the Ayu Trough was spreading at a rate of 8 mm/yr c. 25–2 Ma but has been slowing down since. The northern segment, the Palau and southern Yap trenches, is not an active subduction zone as indicated by the lack of active volcanoes. The Caroline-Pacific boundary is a complex, evolving system partly and potentially developing into a subduction zone. The south-east boundary, along the Manus Trench, is a convergent boundary, but in the absence of active volcanoes and earthquakes, is not a subduction zone at present.[2]

Tectonic history

The Caroline Plate moves at velocities very close to those of the Pacific Plate and its age of formation and current status as an independent plate are uncertain. There is a very slow rate of spreading between the Caroline and Philippine plates but the Caroline Plate apparently moved together with both the Philippine and New Guinea plates during the Neogene.[3]

The Caroline Ridge, to the north, meets the Caroline Plate at the Sorol Trough at which there some evidence of oblique extension; the Caroline Ridge, however, is, although of uncertain origin, made of oceanic crust and probably the product of a hotspot. The presence of a trench and indications of subduction beneath the Pacific Plate is suggestive but the absence of island arcs, which could be expected from substantial subduction in the past, makes the development along this boundary unclear.[3]

The Caroline Plate was, under all circumstances, a separate plate in the past. The boundary along its eastern side, the Mussau Trench, must have been an important boundary since magnetic anomalies on the Caroline Plate are Oligocene but those on the Pacific Plate Cretaceous. There are indications of spreading in the Caroline Sea 34–27 Ma. If the Caroline Plate moved with the Pacific Plate there should be clear evidences of a corresponding subduction beneath New Guinea, of which there is virtually none. The Auy Trough is a slow spreading zone that opened 15 Ma.[3]



  1. ^ Alden 2016
  2. ^ a b Bird 2003, Caroline Plate (CL), pp. 18–20
  3. ^ a b c Hall 2002, Caroline plate, pp. 393–394


  • Alden, A. (2016). "Here Are the Sizes of Tectonic or Lithospheric Plates". Retrieved 18 December 2016.
  • Bird, P. (2003). "An updated digital model of plate boundaries" (PDF). Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. 4 (3). doi:10.1029/2001GC000252. Retrieved 18 December 2016. Lay summary (2009).
  • Bracey, D. R. (1983). Geophysics and tectonic development of the Caroline Basin (Report). U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office TR283. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
  • Hall, R. (2002). "Cenozoic geological and plate tectonic evolution of SE Asia and the SW Pacific: computer-based reconstructions, model and animations" (PDF). Journal of Asian Earth Sciences. 20 (4): 353–431. doi:10.1016/S1367-9120(01)00069-4. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
  • Weissel, J. K.; Anderson, R. N. (1978). "Is there a Caroline plate?" (PDF). Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 41 (2): 143–158. doi:10.1016/0012-821X(78)90004-3. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
Arthur Fitger

Arthur Heinrich Wilhelm Fitger (4 October 1840 – 28 June 1909) was a German painter, art critic, playwright and poet.

Bird's Head Plate

The Bird's Head Plate is a minor tectonic plate incorporating the Bird's Head Peninsula, at the western end of the island of New Guinea. Hillis and Müller consider it to be moving in unison with the Pacific Plate. Bird considers it to be unconnected to the Pacific Plate.The plate is separating from the Australian Plate and the small Maoke Plate along a divergent boundary to the southeast. Convergent boundaries exist along the north, between the Bird's Head and the Caroline Plate, the Philippine Sea Plate and the Halmahera Plate to the northwest. A transform boundary exists between the Bird's Head and the Molucca Sea Collision Zone to the southwest. Another convergent boundary exists between the Bird's Head and the Banda Sea Plate to the south.

Cotabato Trench

The Cotabato Trench is an oceanic trench in the Pacific Ocean, off the southwestern coast of Mindanao in the Philippines. Along this trench the oceanic crust of the Sunda Plate beneath the Celebes Sea is being subducted beneath the Philippines Mobile Belt. It forms part of a linked

set of trenches along the western side of the Philippines formed over east-dipping subduction zones, including the Manila Trench and the Negros Trench. At its northern end the rate of convergence across this boundary is about 100 mm per year. It is a relatively young structure, forming during the late Miocene to Pliocene. This age is consistent with the estimated age of the sedimentary rocks in the accretionary wedge associated with the trench and the age of adakitic arc rocks on Mindanao thought to date the onset of subduction.

Geography of Indonesia

Indonesia is an archipelagic country located in Southeast Asia, lying between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. It is located in a strategic location astride or along major sea lanes connecting East Asia, South Asia and Oceania. It is the world's largest island country. Indonesia's various regional cultures have been shaped—although not specifically determined—by centuries of complex interactions with its physical environment.

Izu–Bonin–Mariana Arc

The Izu–Bonin–Mariana (IBM) arc system is a tectonic-plate convergent boundary. The IBM arc system extends over 2800 km south from Tokyo, Japan, to beyond Guam, and includes the Izu Islands, Bonin Islands, and Mariana Islands; much more of the IBM arc system is submerged below sealevel. The IBM arc system lies along the eastern margin of the Philippine Sea Plate in the Western Pacific Ocean. It is the site of the deepest gash in Earth's solid surface, the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench.

The IBM arc system formed as a result of subduction of the western Pacific plate. The IBM arc system now subducts mid-Jurassic to Early Cretaceous lithosphere, with younger lithosphere in the north and older lithosphere in the south, including the oldest (~170 million years old, or Ma) oceanic crust. Subduction rates vary from ~2 cm (1 inch) per year in the south to 6 cm (~2.5 inches) in the north.

The volcanic islands that comprise these island arcs are thought to have been formed from the release of volatiles (steam from trapped water, and other gases) being released from the subducted plate, as it reached sufficient depth for the temperature to cause release of these materials. The associated trenches are formed as the oldest (most western) part of the Pacific plate crust increases in density with age, and because of this process finally reaches its lowest point just as it subducts under the crust to the west of it.

The IBM arc system is an excellent example of an intra-oceanic convergent margin (IOCM). IOCMs are built on oceanic crust and contrast fundamentally with island arc built on continental crust, such as Japan or the Andes. Because IOCM crust is thinner, denser, and more refractory than that beneath Andean-type margins, study of IOCM melts and fluids allows more confident assessment of mantle-to-crust fluxes and processes than is possible for Andean-type convergent margins. Because IOCMs are far removed from continents they are not affected by the large volume of alluvial and glacial sediments. The consequent thin sedimentary cover makes it much easier to study arc infrastructure and determine the mass and composition of subducted sediments. Active hydrothermal systems found on the submarine parts of IOCMs give us a chance to study how many of earth's important ore deposits formed.

Kilinailai Trench

Kilinailai Trench is a trench delineating the oceanic boundary between the Pacific Plate and North Bismarck Plates, in Papua New Guinea. The Manus Trench, which looks as if it is a western continuation of the Kilinailai Trench, marks the boundary between the Caroline Plate and North Bismarck Plates.


Lae () is the capital of Morobe Province and is the second-largest city in Papua New Guinea. It is located near the delta of the Markham River and at the start of the Highlands Highway, which is the main land transport corridor between the Highlands region and the coast. Lae is the largest cargo port of the country and is the industrial hub of Papua New Guinea. The city is known as the Garden City and home of the University of Technology.

List of tectonic plates

This is a list of tectonic plates on the Earth's surface. Tectonic plates are pieces of Earth's crust and uppermost mantle, together referred to as the lithosphere. The plates are around 100 km (62 mi) thick and consist of two principal types of material: oceanic crust (also called sima from silicon and magnesium) and continental crust (sial from silicon and aluminium). The composition of the two types of crust differs markedly, with mafic basaltic rocks dominating oceanic crust, while continental crust consists principally of lower-density felsic granitic rocks.

Manila Trench

The Manila Trench is an oceanic trench in the Pacific Ocean, located west of the islands of Luzon and Mindoro in the Philippines. The trench reaches a depth of about 5,400 metres (17,700 ft), in contrast with the average depth of the South China Sea of about 1,500 metres (4,900 ft). It is created by subduction, in which the Sunda Plate (part of Eurasian Plate) is subducting under the Philippine Mobile Belt, producing this almost N-S trending trench. The convergent boundary is terminated to the north by the Taiwan collision zone, and to the south by the Mindoro terrane (Sulu-Palawan block colliding with SW Luzon). It is an area pervaded by negative gravity anomalies.The Manila Trench is associated with frequent earthquakes, and the subduction zone is responsible for the belt of volcanoes on the west side of the Philippine island of Luzon, which includes Mount Pinatubo.

Convergence between the Philippine Mobile Belt and the Sunda Plate have been estimated using GPS measurements, and this value ranges from ~ 50+ mm/yr in Taiwan, to 100 mm/yr near N. Luzon, and ~ 50 mm/yr near Zambales and ~20+mm/yr near Mindoro island. Plate locking between the Sunda Plate and Luzon is about 1% coupled, almost unlocked as determined by elastic block models, suggesting that the trench absorbs the Philippine Mobile Belt-Eurasian Plate convergence.

Manus Trench

Manus Trench is an oceanic trench in the Bismarck Sea north of Papua New Guinea delineating the plate tectonic boundary between the Caroline and North Bismarck plates.There very moderate seismic activity along both these trenches, and their status as an active subduction zone has been challenged. A relative motion of 10 mm/a (0.39 in/year) or less has, nevertheless, been suggested for the Manus Trench, roughly normal to the trench.The Kilinailau Trench east of New Ireland forms the continuation to the Manus Trench and is thought to mark the boundary between the Pacific and North Bismarck plates. It is, however, disputed whether the Caroline Plate moves independently from the Pacific Plate. If not, the Manus and Kilinailau trenches form the Pacific-North Bismarck boundary together.Perpendicular to the two trenches is another trench, the Mussau Trench separating the Caroline Plate and Pacific Plate.

Marikina Valley Fault System

The Marikina Valley Fault System, also known as the Valley Fault System (VFS), is a dominantly dextral strike-slip fault system in Luzon, Philippines. It extends from Doña Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan in the north and runs through the provinces of Rizal, and the Metro Manila cities of Quezon, Marikina, Pasig, Makati, Taguig and Muntinlupa, and the provinces of Cavite and Laguna that ends in Canlubang.

North Bismarck Plate

The North Bismarck Plate is a small tectonic plate located in the Bismarck Sea off the northeast coast of New Guinea.

Pacific Plate

The Pacific Plate is an oceanic tectonic plate that lies beneath the Pacific Ocean. At 103 million square kilometres (40,000,000 sq mi), it is the largest tectonic plate.The Pacific Plate contains an interior hot spot forming the Hawaiian Islands.Hillis and Müller are reported to consider the Bird's Head Plate to be moving in unison with the Pacific Plate. Bird considers them to be unconnected.

Philippine Sea Plate

The Philippine Sea Plate or the Philippine Plate is a tectonic plate comprising oceanic lithosphere that lies beneath the Philippine Sea, to the east of the Philippines. Most segments of the Philippines, including northern Luzon, are part of the Philippine Mobile Belt, which is geologically and tectonically separate from the Philippine Sea Plate.

Philippine Sea plate is bordered mostly by convergent boundaries:

To the north, the Philippine Sea Plate meets the Okhotsk Plate at the Nankai Trough. The Philippine Sea Plate, the Amurian Plate, and the Okhotsk Plate meet at Mount Fuji in Japan. The thickened crust of the Izu-Bonin-Mariana arc colliding with Japan constitutes the Izu Collision Zone.

To the east, Philippine Sea Plate meets the Pacific Plate, subducting at the Izu-Ogasawara Trench. The east of the plate includes the Izu-Ogasawara (Bonin) and the Mariana Islands, forming the Izu-Bonin-Mariana Arc system. There is also a divergent boundary between the Philippine Sea Plate and the small Mariana Plate which carries the Mariana Islands.

To the south, the Philippine Sea Plate is bounded by the Caroline Plate and Bird's Head Plate.

To the west, the Philippine Sea Plate subducts under the Philippine Mobile Belt at the Philippine Trench and the East Luzon Trench. (The adjacent rendition of Prof. Peter Bird's map is inaccurate in this respect.)

To the northwest, the Philippine Sea Plate meets Taiwan and the Nansei islands on the Okinawa Plate, and southern Japan on the Amurian Plate.

Ring of Fire

The Ring of Fire (also known as the Rim of Fire or the Circum-Pacific belt) is a major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. In a large 40,000 km (25,000 mi) horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and plate movements. It has 452 volcanoes (more than 75% of the world's active and dormant volcanoes).About 90% of the world's earthquakes and about 81% of the world's largest earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire. All but three of the world's 25 largest volcanic eruptions of the last 11,700 years occurred at volcanoes in the Ring of Fire. The Ring of Fire is a direct result of plate tectonics: the movement and collisions of lithospheric plates, especially subduction in the northern portion. The western portion is more complex, with a number of smaller tectonic plates in collision with the Pacific plate from the Mariana Islands, the Philippines, Bougainville, Tonga, and New Zealand.

Sirena Deep

The Sirena Deep, originally named the HMRG Deep, was discovered in 1997 by a team of scientists from Hawaii. Its directly measured depth of 10,714 m (35,151 ft) is third only to the Challenger Deep and Horizon Deep, currently the deepest known directly measured places in the ocean. It lies along the Mariana Trench, 200 kilometers to the east of the Challenger Deep and 145 km south of Guam.

West Caroline Basin

The West Caroline Basin is an oceanic basin in the south-west Pacific Ocean north of New Guinea.

Woodlark Plate

The Woodlark Plate is a small tectonic plate located in the eastern half of the island of New Guinea. The Caroline plate subducts along its northern border while the Maoke Plate converges on the west, the Australian plate converges on the south, and on the east an undefined compressive zone which may be a transform fault marking the boundary with the adjoining Solomon Sea Plate.

Tectonic plates of Southeast Asia–New Guinea (Australian Plate-Pacific Plate Convergence Zone)
and troughs
Subsea plateaus
and basins


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