Transform Marginal Plateaus

Numerous submarine plateaus form highstanding bathymetric highs at continent to ocean transitions. Due to their proximity to continents, they have been frequently labelled “marginal plateaus”, although this term has not been clearly defined or associated with a specific geology or geodynamic process. Until now, these elevations have been interpreted as submerged thinned continental fragments detached from continents, basaltic buildups formed by hotspots, volcanic margins or oceanic plateaus. Many of these plateaus formed at transform margins connecting oceanic basins of contrasted ages.

We propose for the first time to define and review a class of marginal plateaus related to a specific tectonic setting: “Transform Marginal Plateaus” (TMPs). Based on a compilation of 20 TMPs around the world, we show that most of them have a polyphased history and have undergone at least one major volcanic phase. Our review highlights in particular a hitherto unrecognized close link between hotspots, volcanic activity and transform margins.

We also propose that, due to their polyphased history, TMPs may contain several successive basins and overlooked long-lived sedimentary archives. We finally highlight that, because these TMPs were transform plate boundaries perpendicular or oblique to surrounding rifts, many of them were close to last-contact points during final continental breakup and may have formed land bridges or bathymetric highs between continents. Therefore, we discuss broader scientific issues, such as the interest of TMPs in recording and studying the onset and variations of oceanic currents or past biodiversity growth, bio-connectivity and lineage evolution.


Transform marginal plateau, Transform margin, Volcanic margin, Large Igneous Province, Continental breakup, Paleoceanography, Land bridge, Gateway

Full Text

Author's final draft
6436 Mo
Supplementary material 1 In order to further illustrate their morphological character, in this document we present images of bathymetric profiles derived from the ...
1367 Ko
Supplementary material 2 In this document we present bathymetric profiles derived from the GEBCO 2014 grid for the Newfoundland and the Sierra Leone plateaus. These two plateaus were removed from...
11 Mo
-6 Ko
-11 Ko
Publisher's official version
3218 Mo
How to cite
Loncke L., Roest Walter, Klingelhoefer Frauke, Basile C., Graindorge David, Heuret A., Marcaillou B., Museur Thomas, Fanget Anne-Sophie, Mercier de Lépinay M. (2020). Transform Marginal Plateaus. Earth-science Reviews. 203. 102940 (32p.).,

Copy this text