Marine Geology


, Volume 47, Issue 5, pp 705-717

First online:

Plate tectonics of the northern part of the Pacific Ocean

  • E. V. VerzhbitskyAffiliated withShirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences Email author 
  • , M. V. KononovAffiliated withShirshov Institute of Oceanology, Russian Academy of Sciences
  • , V. D. KotelkinAffiliated withFaculty of Mechanics and Mathematics, Moscow State University

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Geophysical data on the northern part of the Pacific Ocean were systematized to compile a map of geomagnetic and geothermal studies of the Bering Sea. The absence of reliable data about the formation time of the Bering Sea structures of oceanic and continental origins is noted; this hampered the assessment of the geodynamical processes in the North Pacific. Based on the geophysical data, we estimated the age of the structures of the Bering Sea floor such as the Commander Basin (21 My), the Shirshov Ridge (95 and 33 My in the northern and southern parts, respectively), the Aleutian Basin (70 My), the Vitus Arch (44 My), the Bowers Ridge (30 My), and the Bowers Basin (40 My). These values are confirmed by the geological, geophysical, and kinematic data. A numerical modeling of the formation of extensive regional structures (Emperor Fracture Zone, Chinook Trough, and others) in the Northern Pacific is carried out. A conclusion was made on the basis of the geological and geothermal analysis that the northern and southern parts of the Shirshov Ridge have different geological ages and different tectonic structures. The northern part of the ridge is characterized by an upthrust-nappe terrain origin, while the southern part has originated from a torn-away island arc similar to the origin of the Bowers Ridge. The sea floor of the Aleutian Basin represents a detached part of the Upper Cretaceous Kula plate, on which spreading processes took place in the Vitus Arch area in the Eocene. The final activity phase in the Bering Sea began 21 My B.P. by spreading of the ancient oceanic floor of the Commander Basin. Based on the age estimations of the structures of the Bering Sea floor, the results of the modeling of the process of formation of regional fracture zones and of the geomagnetic, geothermal, tectonic, geological, and structural data, we calculated and compiled a kinematic model (with respect to a hot spot reference system) of the northern part of the Pacific Ocean for 21 My B.P.