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  • Context (TOI | WION): According to a study published, the Gibraltar arc has been quietly creeping westward and might “invade” the Atlantic, leading to the gradual closure of the ocean basin.
  • There are two other subduction zones on the other side of the Atlantic—the Lesser Antilles, in the Caribbean, and the Scotia Arc, near Antarctica. However, these subduction zones invaded the Atlantic several million years ago.

Gibraltar Subduction Zone - PMF IAS

  • The Gibraltar Arc is currently located beneath the Gibraltar Strait, between Spain and Morocco.
    • Gibraltar Strait, a 10-mile gap separating Europe and Africa, marks the meeting point of the Eurasian Plate and the African Plate.

    Strait of Gibraltar - PMF IAS

  • The Gibraltar arc, which began its westward journey around 30 million years ago, has appeared stalled in recent history, prompting speculation about its activity.
  • However, the study suggested that the Gibraltar arc is merely in a period of dormancy.
  • Over the next 20 million years, the arc will gradually push its way westwards through the narrow Gibraltar Strait and into the Atlantic in a process termed “subduction invasion” forming a new Atlantic Subduction System akin to the infamous “Ring of Fire” encircling the Pacific Ocean.
  • Such a transformation would involve the recycling of oceanic crust into the mantle through subduction, gradually altering the landscape of the Atlantic.

Gibraltar Subduction Zone - PMF IAS

To learn more on the Process of Subduction, refer to >Continent-Continent Convergence, Ocean-Ocean Convergence, Continent-Ocean Convergence.

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