Absolute plate motions and age of the ocean crust around Australia since 150 million years ago

This animation shows a model of absolute plate motions and the age of the ocean crust through time centered on Australia using a plate model from Müller et al. (Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Science, 2016). The animation corresponds to snapshots of the tectonic evolution portrayed here as shown in Fig. 1 of Müller et al. (Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 2016).



Mid-ocean ridges and boundaries of rift systems are shown as black lines, whereas subduction zones are shown as toothed black lines; absolute plate velocities arrows are shown as black arrows. At 150 Myr ago the video portrays Gondwanaland before its breakup, with the Phoenix Plate in the Pacific Ocean being subducted along the eastern Gondwana margin. Around 130 Myr ago breakup occurs between India and Australia/Antarctica. The combination of mid-ocean ridge push west of Australia and Antarctica with slab suction along eastern Gondwana results in pronounced eastward motion of Australia/Antarctica from 130-100 Myr ago. In turn the leading edge of eastern Australia overrode sinking, subducted slab material, first leading to a dynamic drawdown and flooding of the Eromanga Basin, and later to rebound. Rebound was partly driven by the progressive younging of the subducting crust of the Phoenix Plate, leading to a reduction in subducted slab volume through time, and a progressive reduction in negative buoyancy of the slab material sinking in the upper mantle. Video created by Sabin Zahirovic, based on the plate models published here:

Müller, R. D, Seton, M., Zahirovic, S., Williams, S.E., Matthews, K.J., Wright, N.M., Shephard, G.E., Maloney, K.Y., Barnett-Moore, N., Hosseinpour, M., Bower, D.J., Cannon, J., 2016, Ocean basin evolution and global-scale plate reorganization events since Pangea breakup, Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Science, Vol 44, 107-138.

Müller, R.D., Flament, N., Matthews, K.J., Williams, S.E., Gurnis, M., 2016, Formation of Australian continental margin highlands driven by plate–mantle interaction, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 441, 60-70.


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