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…

Dietmar Müller finalist for AuScope Excellence in Research Award

Recently the Australian geoscience community celebrated a decade of AuScope achievements. EarthByte’s very own Prof Dietmar Muller was an award finalist for excellence in scientific research and providing tools (such as GPlates) that enable scientific development in our community. GPlates is an open-source and cross-platform tool that is accessible to high school teachers, research scientists and anyone … Read more…

Ridge-spotting: A new test for Pacific absolute plate motion models

Author List: Paul Wessel, Dietmar Müller. Citation: Wessel, P., and Müller, R.D. (2016). Ridge-spotting: A new test for Pacific absolute plate motion models. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 17 (6): 2408–2420. doi:10.1002/2016GC006404 Abstract: Relative plate motions provide high-resolution descriptions of motions of plates relative to other plates. Yet geodynamically, motions of plates relative to the mantle are required since … Read more…

Ocean Basin Evolution and Global-Scale Plate Reorganization Events Since Pangea Breakup

Author List: Dietmar Müller, Maria Seton, Sabin Zahirovic, Simon Williams, Kara Matthews, Nicky Wright, Grace Shephard, Kayla Maloney, Nicholas Barnett-Moore, Maral Hosseinpour, Dan Bower and John Cannon. Citation: Müller, R.D., Seton, M., Zahirovic, S., Williams, S.E., Matthews, K.J., Wright, N.M., Shephard, G.E., Maloney, K.T., Barnett-Moore, N., Hosseinpour, M., Bower, D.J., & Cannon, J. (2016). Ocean Basin Evolution and … 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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Evolution of the global network of tectonic plates 200 million years ago to present

This animation shows the tesselation of the surface of the Earth over the last 200 million years as an evolving "jigsaw puzzle" of plates. Tectonic plates, the pieces of Earth's broken outer shell, are all unequal in size. Today seven plates, including the Pacific Ocean and Africa as the largest plates, account for 94% of the surface while the remaining 6% are occupied by a multitude of small plates, such as Iberia and the Philippine Plate.

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Simulation of mantle convection and evolving tectonic plate network

Simulation of deep earth convection with blue colours in the interior outlining sinking subducted slabs and red colours outlining rising plumes in the Earth’s interior, while the system of tectonic plates at the surface is evolving dynamically, with red colours at the surface outlining evolving plate boundaries, corresponding to relatively low viscosity while the stable interior of the plates has a higher viscosity, shown in green.

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Large-scale dynamic surface topography of Australia since 150 million years ago

This animation shows a model for the mantle-convection-driven component of Australian surface topography (Müller et al., Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 2016). The model was calibrated against four locations in the Eastern Highlands of Australia where surface uplift had been estimated from river profile modelling by Czarnota et al. (J. Geophys. Res. 2014).

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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).

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Reconstruction of the CGMW2010 geological map of the world – Atlantic Ocean

This animation reconstructs the CGMW (Bouysse, 2010) geology of the Atlantic Ocean region from 200 Ma to present, using the GPlates software and the plate model by Seton et al. (Earth-Science Reviews, 2012) with modifications in the Indian Ocean by Gibbons et al. (Gondwana Research, 2015). An interactive display of this reconstruction and some additional information can be found on the GPlates Portal.

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Reconstruction of the CGMW2010 geological map of the world – Indian Ocean

This animation reconstructs the CGMW (Bouysse, 2010) geology of theIndian Ocean region from 200 Ma to present, using the GPlates software and the plate model by Gibbons et al. (Gondwana Research, 2015) for the Indian Ocean. An interactive display of this reconstruction and some additional information can be found on the GPlates Portal.

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Reconstruction of the CGMW2010 geological map of the world – Antarctic region

This animation reconstructs the CGMW (Bouysse, 2010) geology of the circum-Antarctic region from 120 Ma to present, using the GPlates software and the plate model by Seton et al. (Earth-Science Reviews, 2012) with modifications in the Indian Ocean by Gibbons et al. (Gondwana Research, 2015). An interactive display of this reconstruction and some additional information can be found on the GPlates Portal.

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Reconstruction of the CGMW2010 geological map of the world – Arctic region

This animation reconstructs the CGMW (Bouysse, 2010) geology of the circum-Arctic region from 200 Ma to present, using the GPlates software and the plate model by Shephard et al. (Earth-Science Reviews, 2013). Some overlaps of geological elements are caused by small imperfections in the plate polygons published with this plate model. An interactive display of this reconstruction and some additional information can be found on the GPlates Portal.

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Subduction controls the distribution and fragmentation of Earth’s tectonic plates

Author List: Claire Mallard, Nicolas Coltice, Maria Seton, Dietmar Müller and Paul Tackley Citation: Mallard, C., Coltice, N., Seton, M., Müller, R. D. & Tackley, P. J. (2016). Subduction controls the distribution and fragmentation of Earth’s tectonic plates. Nature, 535, 140-143. doi:10.1038/nature17992 Abstract: Volcanic hotspot tracks featuring linear progressions in the age of volcanism are typical surface expressions of plate … Read more…

Solving Earth’s giant jigsaw puzzle of tectonic plates

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Earth’s plate tesselation through time (150 Myr ago to present)

Plate tectonics drives earthquakes and volcanism, forms precious mineral deposits and controls the planet’s long-term carbon cycle.   But why do we have just a few large plates, and many tiny plates?  Does it matter? These questions have now been answered in a French-Swiss-Australian collaborative paper led by PhD student Claire Mallard at the Univ. Lyon, published on 15 June 2016 in the journal Nature. The paper includes Nicolas Coltice (Lyon), EarthByters Dietmar Müller and Maria Seton, and Paul Tackley (ETH). 

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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…

Australian paleotopography 70 million years ago to present

This quicktime animation accompanies the paper by Heine, C., Müller, R.D., DiCaprio, L. and Steinberger, B. (2010), Integrating deep Earth dynamics in paleogeographic reconstructions of Australia, Tectonophysics, 483, 135-150. The animation is based on a combination of a present-day digital elevation model corrected for time-dependent sediment thickness in some key areas combined with a model for Australia's plate motion over a convecting mantle, resulting in topography modulated by mantle convection-driven dynamic surface topography back in time and a eustatic sea model (see paper for details).  

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Hawaiian plume motion through geological time

The video, created by Rakib Hassan, shows the southward motion of the modelled Hawaiian plume over geological time and the evolution of its tilt. Note the fast southward motion of the plume before 50 Ma, driven by the southward motion of its root at the northern edge of the Pacific Large Low-Shear Velocity Province (LLSVP). This motion came to a halt after 50 Ma. The black contour marks the 75% chemical concentration isosurface 100 km above the core mantle boundary. 

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Evolution of deep mantle flow under the Pacific Ocean

The video, created by Rakib Hassan, shows the evolution of mean poloidal deep mantle flow in a 300 km thick shell above the core mantle boundary over the last 140 million years. N-S oriented cross sections along two profiles through the Pacific Large Low-Shear Velocity Province (LLSVP) show the evolution of its edges driven by subduction-induced flow.

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Modelled uplift history of the Eastern Australian Highlands through time

Modelled topography of the eastern Australian highlands since 150 million years ago. The model is based on a coupled plate tectonic-mantle convection model run on the Australian high performance computer Raijin. The model shows that the time-dependent interaction of plate motion with mantle downwellings and upwellings accounts for the broad pattern of margin uplift phases.

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Tectonic Plate Velocities from the Triassic Period (230 million years ago) to the present

Reconstructions of absolute plate velocities, with colours and vector lengths indicating plate speed and vector azimuths representing absolute plate motion directions. Subduction zones are coloured magenta teethed lines that indicate subduction polarity, mid-ocean ridges are black lines and coastlines and boundaries between continental blocks and terranes are shown as grey lines. Hammer projection with 30°W … Read more…

Tectonic evolution of Western Tethys from Jurassic to present day: coupling geological and geophysical data with seismic tomography models

Author List: Maral Hosseinpour, Simon Williams, Maria Seton, Nicholas Barnett-Moore and Dietmar Müller Citation: Hosseinpour, M., Williams, S., Seton, M., Barnett-Moore, N., and Müller, R.D. (2016). Tectonic evolution of Western Tethys from Jurassic to present day: coupling geological and geophysical data with seismic tomography models. International Geology Review 58 (13): 1616–1645. doi:10.1080/00206814.2016.1183146 Abstract: The geodynamic evolution of the … Read more…