Tectonic reconstruction models of Southeast Asia all invoke in the early Cenozoic the collision of Mesozoic oceanic plates, which have been fragmented, consumed along subduction zones or emplaced onto the overriding plate. However, with marked variations in these models, we reinvestigate the tectonic evolutionary landscape of Southeast Asia through the lens of Philippine geology. In particular, we present revisions to the more recent models by adopting the unique approach of integrating data that we have gathered for the past 17 years from the Upper Mesozoic to Lower Cenozoic stratigraphic formations in northern and central Philippines. These formations, which resulted mainly from submarine mass transport processes, evolved in response to early arc-related processes of oblique subduction, frontal wedge deformation, terrane accretion and strike slip faulting. Additional key constraints for the revisions include: (1) the timing of early Cenozoic magmatism in eastern Luzon; (2) the spatial distribution of the Upper Mesozoic to Lower Cenozoic sedimentary formations with respect to other key features (e.g. distribution of Mesozoic ophiolite fragment and continent-derived rocks) in the Philippine arc; (3) the paleolatitudinal position of Luzon and surrounding regions and; (4) the movement of the surrounding plates since the Late Mesozoic.
In revising previous models, a subduction zone (proto-East Luzon Trough) separating Benham Plateau and the Philippine arc was placed to explain the spatial distribution of Eocene arc-related formational units and Mesozoic ophiolite materials comprising the accretionary complex east of Luzon at ~40 Ma period. During this time, Luzon was modeled at the southern margin of the East Asia Sea or the proto-Philippine Sea Plate. Mesozoic ophiolitic complexes that line the eastern Philippine arc as well as the ophiolitic and pelagic limestone and chert fragments included in the arc-derived, Eocene formations in Luzon could very well be traces of the now consumed East Asia Sea-proto-Philippine Sea Plate. Within the same period, we modified the Palawan Microcontinental Block (PCB), positioned at the trailing edge of the proto-South China Sea to include the whole Mindoro island and the Romblon Island Group in Central Philippines. Pieces of the consumed Izanagi Plate, the proto-South China Sea and continental-derived sediments from Asia mainland are reflected in the Mesozoic metamorphic rocks and the Eocene sedimentary formation in western Mindoro. Finally, we model Cebu, Bohol and Negros islands in Central Philippines as being at the leading oceanic edge of the Indo-Australian Plate during the early Cenozoic. With the northward movement of the Indo-Australian plate and the trench roll back of the southern margins of the Philippine Sea Plate, the accretion of the Cretaceous arc-related rocks of Cebu, Bohol and Negros onto the Philippine arc by the end of Eocene or early Oligocene becomes a possibility.
Karlo L. Queaño, Graciano P. Yumul Jr., Edanjarlo J. Marquez, Jillian A. Gabo-Ratio, Betchaida D. Payot, Carla B. Dimalanta, Consumed tectonic plates in Southeast Asia: Markers from the Mesozoic to early Cenozoic stratigraphic units in the northern and central Philippines, Journal of Asian Earth Sciences: X, Volume 4, 2020, 100033, ISSN 2590-0560, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaesx.2020.100033.