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For example in the Philippine Sea Plate the West Marianas Ridge has formed due to diffuse rifting in the south of the Marianas trough. What does it mean?

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  • $\begingroup$ (If any users reading this likewise weren't familiar with the term, looks like one spot the term comes up in regards to the Mariana region is agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/2017JB014684). Diffuse means spread out/not a sharply defined boundary... but having faults not being fairly focused is something I at least was not familiar with either, so should be interesting to hear more about it! $\endgroup$ – JeopardyTempest Nov 17 '18 at 13:29
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If memory serves rifting is defined as either discrete or diffuse. Discrete rifting means that the crust is coming apart in one narrow area, usually in the form of a single defined split in the crust such as at divergent plate boundaries. Diffuse rifting is often seen in backarc spreading and involves many small localised extensional breaks in the crust, each break is small but with multiple breaks spread over a large area the total extension can be quite large. For example discrete rifting can be looked at as a 2 metre break along a single axis while a zone of diffuse rifting would involve several 1 metre breaks each with its own axis, all of which are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the direction of rifting.

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