The dynamics and evolution of rifts and continental rifted margins have been the subject of intense study and debate for many years and still remain the focus of active investigation. The 2006 AGU Fall Meeting session "Extensional Processes Leading to the Formation of Basins and Rifted Margins, From Volcanic to Magma-Limited" included several contributions that illustrated recent advances in our understanding of rifting processes, from the early stages of extension to breakup and incipient seafloor spreading. Following this session, we aimed to assemble a multi-disciplinary collection of papers focussing on the architecture, formation and evolution of continental rift zones and rifted margins. This Tectonophysics Special Issue "Role of magmatism in continental lithosphere extension" comprises 14 papers that present some of the recent insights on rift and rifted margins dynamics, emphasising the role of magmatism in extensional processes. The purpose of this contribution is to introduce these papers. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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