Okinawa Trough

Okinawa Trough
The Okinawa trough in context of back-arc basins of the world.

The Okinawa Trough (沖縄トラフ Okinawa Torafu?) is a seabed feature of the East China Sea. It is an active, initial back-arc rifting basin which has formed behind the Ryukyu arc-trench system in the West Pacific. It developed where the Philippine Sea Plate is subducting under the Eurasia Plate.[1]



It is a back-arc basin formed by extension within the continental lithosphere behind the far deeper Ryukyu Trench-arc system.[2] It has a large section more than 3,300 feet (1,000 metres) deep and a maximum depth of 8,912 feet (2,716 metres).

The Okinawa Trough still in an early stage of evolving from arc type to back-arc activity.

Interpreting geography

Okinawa trough

The existence of the Okinawa Trough complicates descriptive issues in the East China Sea.[3] According to Professor Ji Guoxing of the Asia-Pacific Department at Shanghai Institute for International Studies,

  • China's interpretation of the geography is that

    "...the Okinawa Trough proves that the continental shelves of China and Japan are not connected, that the Trough serves as the boundary between them, and that the Trough should not be ignored ...."[3]

  • Japan's interpretation of the geography is that

    "...the trough is just an incidental depression in a continuous continental margin between the two countries ... and that any legal effect of the trough should be ignored ...."[3]


  1. ^ Thakur, Naresh Kumar et al. (2010). Exploration of Gas Hydrates: Geophysical Techniques, p. 119. at Google Books
  2. ^ Sibuet, Jean-Claude et al. "Back arc extension in the Okinawa Trough," Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 92, Issue B13, p. 14041-14063.
  3. ^ a b c Ji, Guoxing. (1995). "Maritime Jurisdiction in the Three China Seas," p. 11. UC Berkeley: UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation; retrieved 15 Nov 2010.


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