Asia is key to a richer understanding of many important lithospheric processes such as crustal growth, continental evolution and orogenesis. But to properly decipher the secrets Asia holds, a first-order tectonic context is needed. This presents a challenge, however, because a great variety of alternative and often contradictory tectonic models of Asia have flourished. This plethora of models has in part arisen from efforts to explain limited observations (in space, time or discipline) without regard for the broader assemblage of established constraints. The way forward, then, is to endeavor to construct paleogeographic models that fully incorporate the diverse constraints available, namely from quantitative paleomagnetic data, the plentiful record of geologic and paleobiologic observations, and the principles of plate tectonics. This paper presents a preliminary attempt at such a synthesis concerning the early Paleozoic tectonic history of Asia. A review of salient geologic observations and paleomagnetic data from the various continental blocks and terranes of Asia is followed by the presentation of a new, full-plate tectonic model of the region from middle Cambrian to end-Silurian time (500–420 Ma). Although this work may serve as a reference point, the model itself can only be considered provisional and ideally it will evolve with time. Accordingly, all the model details are released so that they may be used to test and improve the framework as new discoveries unfold.
This item's license is: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International