Rifted Margins: State of the Art and Future Challenges

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


  • “IMAGinING RIFTING” Workshop Participants

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Center of Geodynamics
  • IN2P3
  • Cardiff University
  • University of Oslo
  • University of Bremen
  • Aramco
  • GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences
  • M&U
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Liverpool
  • Specialist Geosciences
  • Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland
  • Imperial College London
  • Laboratoire Kastler Brossel, ENS, UPMC-Paris 6
  • University of Oxford
  • University College Dublin
  • Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  • Monash University
  • University of Toulouse
  • University of Lausanne
  • UC Davis
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Durham University
  • Terractiva Consulting SL
  • CSIC - Instituto de Ciencias del Mar (ICM)
  • Michigan State University
  • Rowan Consulting
  • South China Sea Institute of Oceanology
  • University of Bern
  • University of Florence


Improvements in seismic imaging, computing capabilities, and analytical methods, as well as a number of industry deep-water wells sampling distal offshore settings, have underpinned new concepts for rifted margin evolution developed in the last two decades; these mark significant progress in our understanding of extensional systems. For example, the tectonic, sedimentary, and magmatic processes linked to the formation of rifted margins have been overhauled, giving rise to more quantitative approaches and new concepts. However, these processes cannot be understood in isolation, requiring consideration of the continuum in which inheritance and physical processes are integrated within a plate tectonic framework. The major progress and fundamental developments of past research in rifted margins have been made hand-in-hand with other domains of Earth Sciences and have fundamental implications for the understanding of key geological systems such as active rifts, the ocean lithosphere, subduction zones, and collisional orogens. The “IMAGinING RIFTING” workshop, organized in Pontresina-Switzerland in September 2017, gathered researchers from all disciplines working on rifts and rifted margins, and included participants from academia and industry. This contribution summarizes the workshop discussions, in addition to outlining our state-of-the-art knowledge of rifted margins. We highlight future challenges in unraveling the processes and conditions under which these extensional systems form and, ultimately, how tectonic plates rupture and new oceans are born. Our aims here are to provide a framework for future research endeavors and to promote collaboration not only within the rift and rifted margins communities, but across other Earth Science disciplines.

Bibliographic note

Publisher Copyright: © Copyright © 2019 Peron-Pinvidic, Manatschal and the “IMAGinING RIFTING” Workshop Participants. Copyright: Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


Original languageEnglish
Article number218
JournalFrontiers in Earth Science
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2019


  • orogen architecture, rifted margin, sedimentary basin, subduction, tectonic/sedimentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas