World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0001266008
Reproduction Date:

Title: Terrane  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Famatinian orogeny, Isua Greenstone Belt, Farallon Plate, Terranes, Geology of Cyprus
Collection: Geology Terminology, Terranes
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


A terrane in geology is a shorthand term for a "tectonostratigraphic terrane", which is a fragment of crustal material formed on, or broken off from, one tectonic plate and accreted or "sutured" to crust lying on another plate. The crustal block or fragment preserves its own distinctive geologic history, which is different from that of the surrounding areas – hence the term "exotic" terrane. The suture zone between a terrane and the crust it attaches to is usually identifiable as a fault.

Older usage of terrane simply described a series of related rock formations or an area having a preponderance of a particular rock or rock groups.


  • Overview 1
  • Tectonostratigraphic terranes 2
    • Africa 2.1
    • Asia 2.2
      • Tibet 2.2.1
    • Australasia 2.3
    • Europe 2.4
      • Fennoscandia 2.4.1
    • North America 2.5
    • South America 2.6
  • References 3
    • Footnotes 3.1
    • Bibliography 3.2
  • External links 4


A tectonostratigraphic terrane is not necessarily an independent microplate in origin, since it may not contain the full thickness of the lithosphere. It is a piece of crust which has been transported laterally, usually as part of a larger plate, and is relatively buoyant due to thickness or low density. When the plate of which it was a part subducted under another plate, the terrane failed to subduct, detached from its transporting plate, and accreted onto the overriding plate. Therefore, the terrane transferred from one plate to the other. Typically, accreting terranes are portions of continental crust which have rifted off another continental mass and been transported surrounded by oceanic crust, or old island arcs formed at some distant subduction zone.

A tectonostratigraphic terrane is a fault-bounded package of rocks of at least regional extent characterized by a geologic history which differs from that of neighboring terranes. The basic characteristics of these terranes is that the present spatial relations are not compatible with the inferred geologic histories. Where juxtaposed terranes processes coeval strata, it must be demonstrable that the geologic evolutions are different and incompatible, and there must be an absence of intermediate lithofacies which could link the strata

The concept of tectonostratigraphic terrane developed from studies in the 1970s of the complicated Pacific Cordilleran ("backbone") orogenic margin of North America, a complex and diverse geological potpourri that was difficult to explain until the new science of plate tectonics illuminated the ability of crustal fragments to "drift" thousands of miles from their origin and fetch up, crumpled, against an exotic shore. Such terranes were dubbed "accreted terranes" by geologists.

It was soon determined that these exotic crustal slices had in fact originated as "suspect terranes" in regions at some considerable remove, frequently thousands of kilometers, from the orogenic belt where they had eventually ended up. It followed that the present orogenic belt was itself an accretionary collage, composed of numerous terranes derived from around the circum-Pacific region and now sutured together along major faults. These concepts were soon applied to other, older orogenic belts, e.g. the Appalachian belt of North America.... Support for the new hypothesis came not only from structural and lithological studies, but also from studies of faunal biodiversity and palaeomagnetism.
— [1]

When terranes are composed of repeated accretionary events, and hence are composed of subunits with distinct history and structure, they may be called superterranes.[2]

Tectonostratigraphic terranes



  1. ^ Carney et al.
  2. ^ University of British Columbia website: Terranes
  3. ^ a b c d e f Aitchison, J.C., Ali, J.R., and Davis, A.M., 2007, When and where did India and Asia collide?: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 112, p. 1-19.:
  4. ^ British Geological Survey 1996: Tectonic map of Britain, Ireland & adjacent areas, Pharaoh et al, 1:1,500,000
  5. ^ a b c d Viola, G.; Henderson, I.H.C.; Bingen, B.; Hendriks, B.W.H. (2011). "The Grenvillian–Sveconorwegian orogeny in Fennoscandia: Back-thrusting and extensional shearing along the "Mylonite Zone"".  


  • J.N. Carney et al., Precambrian Rocks of England and Wales, GCReg. volume 20 (ISBN 978-1861074874)
  • John McPhee, Basin and Range, 1981 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York).
  • John McPhee, In Suspect Terrain, 1983 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York).
  • John McPhee, Assembling California, 1993 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York).

External links

  • West Antarctica terrane analysis
  • Examples of accreted terrane in Idaho
  • Alaskan Terranes
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.