Australian-Antarctic breakup and seafloor spreading: Balancing geological and geophysical constraints

Abstract  The motion of diverging tectonic plates is typically constrained by geophysical data from preserved ocean crust. However, constraining plate motions during continental rifting and the breakup process relies on balancing evidence from a diverse range of geological and geophysical observations, often subject to differing interpretations. Reconstructing the evolution of rifting and breakup between Australia and Antarctica epitomizes the challenges involved in … Read more…

Oblique rifting: the rule, not the exception

Abstract: Movements of tectonic plates often induce oblique deformation at divergent plate boundaries. This is in striking contrast with traditional conceptual models of rifting and rifted margin formation, which often assume 2-D deformation where the rift velocity is oriented perpendicular to the plate boundary. Here we quantify the validity of this assumption by analysing the kinematics … Read more…

New interactive rift obliquity globe on the GPlates Portal

The ARC Basin Genesis Hub has made a new interactive rift obliquity globe available on the GPlates Portal at http://portal.gplates.org/cesium/?view=rift_ov, based on a recently published paper entitled “Oblique rifting: the rule, not the exception” in Solid Earth. This virtual globe visualizes extension velocities and obliquities within Earth’s major post-Pangea rift systems. Each circle depicts the … Read more…

GPlates 2.1 software and data sets

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GPlates 1.5 PromoGPlates is a free desktop software for the interactive visualisation of plate-tectonics. The compilation and documentation of GPlates 2.1 data was primarily funded by AuScope National Collaborative Research Infrastructure (NCRIS).

GPlates is developed by an international team of scientists and professional software developers at the EarthByte Project (part of AuScope) at the University of Sydney, the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences (GPS) at CalTech, the Geodynamics team at the Geological Survey of Norway (NGU) and the Centre for Earth Evolution and Dynamics (CEED) at the University of Oslo. … Read more…

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PyBacktrack 1.0: a tool for reconstructing paleobathymetry on oceanic and continental crust

The pyBacktrack software package allows the backtracking of the paleo-water depth of ocean drill sites, providing a framework for reconstructing the accumulation history of sediment components through time. The software incorporates the effects of decompaction of common marine lithologies and allows backtracking of sites on both oceanic and continental crust.  Backtracking on ocean crust is based on … Read more…

Regional volcanism of northern Zealandia: post-Gondwana break-up magmatism on an extended, submerged continent

Abstract Abstract: Volcanism of Late Cretaceous–Miocene age is more widespread across the Zealandia continent than previously recognized. New age and geochemical information from widely spaced northern Zealandia seafloor samples can be related to three volcanotectonic regimes: (1) age-progressive, hotspot-style, low-K, alkali-basalt-dominated volcanism in the Lord Howe Seamount Chain. The northern end of the chain (c. … Read more…

Palaeolatitudinal distribution of lithologic indicators of climate in a palaeogeographic framework

Citation: Cao, W., Williams, S., Flament, N., Zahirovic, S., Scotese, C., and Müller, R. D., 2018. Paleolatitudinal distribution of lithologic indicators of climate in a paleogeographic framework. Geological Magazine, 1-24. Abstract: Whether the latitudinal distribution of climate-sensitive lithologies is stable through greenhouse and icehouse regimes remains unclear. Previous studies suggest that the palaeolatitudinal distribution of palaeoclimate … Read more…

Improving global paleogeography since the late Paleozoic using paleobiology

Author List: Wenchao Cao, Sabin Zahirovic, Nicolas Flament, Simon Williams, Jan Golonka, Dietmar Müller Citation: Cao, W., Zahirovic, S., Flament, N., Williams, S., Golonka, J., and Müller, R. D., 2017, Improving global paleogeography since the late Paleozoic using paleobiology: Biogeosciences, v. 14, no. 23, p. 5425-5439. Paleogeographic maps, linked to plate tectonic reconstructions, are key components required for climate models … Read more…

Degassing from Continental Rifts Controls Earth’s Thermostat

As a greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has played a major role in regulating Earth’s climate throughout its history. There are vast stores of carbon in the subsurface, but the global carbon cycle controls how much of that carbon enters the atmosphere. As methods for monitoring and tracking the carbon dioxide that moves … Read more…

EarthByte Honours and Masters Projects 2018

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EarthByte has now released a list of Honours/Masters projects to be offered in 2018. These projects are outlined below. Project Title Supervisor(s) Dynamic Earth models, landscape dynamics and basin evolution in Australasia Dietmar Müller, Sabin Zahirovic, Tristan Salles, Rohit Chandra, Sally Cripps (Centre for Translational Data Science) Incorporating modern plate tectonic reconstructions into box models of the deep-time deep-Earth … Read more…

A reconstruction of the Eurekan Orogeny incorporating deformation constraints

Author List:  Austin Gion, Simon Williams, Dietmar Müller Citation: Gion, A.M., Williams, S.E. and Müeller, R.D., 2017. A reconstruction of the Eurekan Orogeny incorporating deformation constraints. Tectonics, 36(2), pp.304-320. Abstract: The Eurekan Orogeny records Paleogene convergence between Greenland and the Canadian Arctic. The complexity of the region, well represented by the disputed magnitude of Cenozoic sinistral displacement of … Read more…

A global review and digital database of large-scale extinct spreading centers

Author List: Sarah MacLeod, Simon Williams, Kara Matthews, Dietmar Müller and Xiaodong Qin Citation: MacLeod, S.J., Williams, S.E., Matthews, K.J., Müller, R.D. and Qin, X., 2017. A global review and digital database of large-scale extinct spreading centers. Geosphere, pp.GES01379-1. Abstract: Extinct mid-ocean ridges record past plate boundary reorganizations, and identifying their locations is crucial to developing a better understanding of the … Read more…

Kinematic constraints on the Rodinia to Gondwana transition

Author List: Andrew Merdith, Simon Williams, Dietmar Müller & Alan Collins. Citation: Merdith, Andrew & Williams, Simon & Müller, Dietmar & Collins, Alan. (2017). Kinematic constraints on the Rodinia-Gondwana transition. Precambrian Research. 299. . 10.1016/j.precamres.2017.07.013. Abstract: Earth’s plate tectonic history during the breakup of the supercontinent Pangea is well constrained from the seafloor spreading record, but evolving plate configurations during … Read more…

Origin and evolution of the deep thermochemical structure beneath Eurasia

Author List: Nicolas Flament, Simon Williams, Dietmar Müller, Michael Gurnis & Dan Bower. Citation: Flament, Nicolas & Williams, Simon & Müller, Dietmar & Gurnis, Michael & J. Bower, Dan. (2017). Origin and evolution of the deep thermochemical structure beneath Eurasia. Nature Communications. 8. . 10.1038/ncomms14164. Abstract: A unique structure in the Earth’s lowermost mantle, the Perm Anomaly, was … Read more…

Global patterns in Earth’s dynamic topography since the Jurassic: the role of subducted slabs

Author List: Michael Rubey, Sascha Brune, Christian Heine, Rhodri Davies, Simon Williams, and Dietmar Müller. Citation: Rubey, M., Brune, S., Heine, C., Davies, D. R., Williams, S. E., and Müller, R. D.: Global patterns in Earth’s dynamic topography since the Jurassic: the role of subducted slabs, Solid Earth, 8, 899-919, https://doi.org/10.5194/se-8-899-2017, 2017. Abstract: We evaluate the spatial … Read more…

The Australian-New Zealand IODP Consortium Workshop

The recent Australian-New Zealand IODP Consortium workshop organised jointly with the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney was the largest Australasian workshop for scientific ocean drilling on record with about 100 attendees from 12 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Japan, India, Germany, Great Britain, France, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, and the USA, with the youngest attendee being only … Read more…

Dynamic topography of passive continental margins and their hinterlands since the Cretaceous

Author List: Dietmar Müller, Rakib Hassan, Michael Garnis, Nicolas Flament, Simon Williams. Citation: Müller, Dietmar & Hassan, Rakib & Gurnis, M & Flament, Nicolas & Williams, Simon. (2017). Dynamic topography of passive continental margins and their hinterlands since the Cretaceous. Gondwana Research. . 10.1016/j.gr.2017.04.028. Abstract: Even though it is well accepted that the Earth’s surface topography has been … Read more…

Rodinia conference in Townsville reviews progress and challenges in reconstructing ancient supercontinents

Several EarthByters presented talks at the Rodinia 2017 conference in Townsville, including Dietmar Müller, Andrew Merdith, Simon Williams, Mike Tetley and Nicolas Flament.  The conference was opened by two talks by Alan Collins (Univ. Adelaide) and Andrew, presenting their new Proterozoic Rodinia plate model with continuously closing plate boundaries that were recently published in Gondwana … Read more…

A full-plate global reconstruction of the Neoproterozoic

Author List:  Andrew Merdith, Alan Collins, Simon Williams, Sergei Pisarevsky, John Foden, Donnelly Archibald, Morgan Blades, Brandon Alessio, Sheree Armistead, Diana Plavsa, Chris Clark, Dietmar Müller Citation: Merdith, Andrew & Collins, Alan & Williams, Simon & Pisarevsky, Sergei & Foden, John & Archibald, Donnelly & Blades, Morgan & Alessio, Brandon & Armistead, Sheree & Plavsa, Diana & Clark, Chris … Read more…

Modelling and visualizing distributed compressional plate deformation using GPlates2.0: The Arctic Eurekan Orogeny

Gion_etal_figPresent-day distributed plate deformation is being mapped and simulated in great detail, largely based on satellite observations.  In contrast, the modelling of and data assimilation into deforming plate models for the geological past is still in its infancy.  The recently released GPLates2.0 software provides a framework for building plate models including diffuse deformation.  … Read more…

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EarthByte Group develops machine learning recipe to find copper-gold deposits along the Andes

In a paper just published in the journal Tectonics, EarthByter and Natural Sciences, University of Sydney alumnus Nathaniel Butterworth and colleagues from the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney and Data61/CSIRO have developed a spatio-temporal machine learning recipe to identify subduction zone tectonic environments in which porphyry copper-gold deposits tend to form. The new approach … Read more…

Global plate boundary evolution and kinematics since the late Paleozoic

Author List: Kara Matthews, Kayla Maloney, Sabin Zahirovic, Simon Williams, Maria Seton and Dietmar Müller. Citation: Matthews, K.J., Maloney, K.T., Zahirovic, S., Williams, S.E., Seton, M., and Müller, R.D. (2016). Global plate boundary evolution and kinematics since the late Paleozoic, Global and Planetary Change, 146, 226-250. Abstract: Many aspects of deep-time Earth System models, including mantle convection, paleoclimatology, paleobiogeography and the deep … Read more…

Global plate boundary evolution and kinematics since the late Paleozoic

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Matthews, K.J., Maloney, K.T., Zahirovic, S., Williams, S.E., Seton, M., and Müller, R.D. (2016). Global plate boundary evolution and kinematics since the late Paleozoic, Global and Planetary Change, 146, 226-250. DOI: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2016.10.002

Abstract

Many aspects of deep-time Earth System models, including mantle convection, paleoclimatology, paleobiogeography and the deep Earth carbon cycle, require high-resolution plate models that include the evolution of the mosaic of plate boundaries through time. We present the first continuous late Paleozoic to present-day global plate model with evolving plate boundaries, building on and extending two previously published models for the late Paleozoic (410–250 Ma) and Mesozoic-Cenozoic (230–0 Ma). We ensure continuity during the 250–230 Ma transition period between the two models, update the absolute reference frame of the Mesozoic-Cenozoic model and add a new Paleozoic reconstruction for the Baltica-derived Alexander Terrane, now accreted to western North America. This 410–0 Ma open access model provides a framework for deep-time whole Earth modelling and acts as a base for future extensions and refinement.

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Deep Carbon Modelling Workshop

Date:  August 29 – 30 2016 Venue: The University of Sydney Description: A two-day workshop bringing together climate and geo-scientists from around Sydney and international collaborators on the DCO-funded Deep Carbon Modelling project. Deep carbon science describes the multi-disciplinary effort to unravel the dynamic interactions of carbon-bearing systems in deep time. The workshop will focus on exploring the interplays … Read more…

Abrupt plate accelerations shape rifted continental margins

Author List: Sascha Brune, Simon Williams, Nathaniel Butterworth and Dietmar Müller. Citation: Brune, S., Williams, S.E, Butterworth, N. P., and Müller, R.D. (2016). Abrupt plate accelerations shape rifted continental margins. Nature, 1–4. doi:10.1038/nature18319 Abstract: Rifted margins are formed by persistent stretching of continental lithosphere until breakup is achieved. It is well known that strain-rate-dependent processes control rift evolution, yet quantified extension … Read more…

The pains and strains of a continental breakup in the media

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View of Australia’s western continental margin, looking eastwards from the Indian Ocean.

Congratulations to Dr Sascha Brune, Dr Simon Williams, Dr Nathan Butterworth, and Prof Dietmar Müller on their paper published in Nature earlier this week. The paper,  Abrupt plate accelerations shape rifted continental marginshas been picked up by the media across the globe.

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The pains and strains of a continental breakup

View of Australia’s western continental margin, looking eastwards from the Indian Ocean. Every now and then in Earth’s history, a pair of continents draws close enough to form one. There comes a time, however, when they must inevitably part ways. Now scientists at Australia’s EarthByte research group, in collaboration with the German Research Centre for … Read more…

Research voyage onboard the RV Investigator

RV_InvestigatorBon voyage! Today, a group of scientists, headed by Dr. Simon Williams from the School of Geosciences, have boarded Australia’s state-of-the-art marine research vessel, the , for a 14-day voyage. The voyage departed from Lautoka, Fiji and is currently headed towards the Fairway Ridge, an uplifted but submerged part of the Lord Howe Rise, northwest of New Caledonia. … Read more…

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A rapid burst in hotspot motion through the interaction of tectonics and deep mantle flow

Author List: Rakib Hassan, Dietmar Müller, Mike Gurnis, Simon Williams and Nicolas Flament Citation: Hassan, R., Müller, R.D., Gurnis, M., Williams, S.E. and Flament, N. (2016). A rapid burst in hotspot motion through the interaction of tectonics and deep mantle flow. Nature, 533, 239-242. doi:10.1038/nature17422 Abstract: Volcanic hotspot tracks featuring linear progressions in the age of volcanism … Read more…