Environmental predictors of deep-sea polymetallic nodule occurrence in the global ocean

Abstract: Polymetallic nodules found on the abyssal plains of the oceans represent one of the slowest known geological processes, and are a source of critical and rare metals for frontier technologies. A quantitative assessment of their occurrence worldwide has been hampered by a research focus on the northeastern Pacific Ocean and the lack of a … Read more…

Subduction history reveals Cretaceous slab superflux as a possible cause for the mid-Cretaceous plume pulse and superswell events

Abstract: Subduction is a fundamental mechanism of material exchange between the planetary interior and the surface. Despite its significance, our current understanding of fluctuating subducting plate area and slab volume flux has been limited to a range of proxy estimates. Here we present a new detailed quantification of subduction zone parameters from the Late Triassic … Read more…

East African topography and volcanism explained by a single, migrating plume

Abstract: Anomalous topographic swells and Cenozoic volcanism in east Africa have been associated with mantle plumes. Several models involving one or more fixed plumes beneath the northeastward migrating African plate have been suggested to explain the space-time distribution of magmatism in east Africa. We devise paleogeographically constrained global models of mantle convection and, based on … Read more…

Reconstructing seafloor age distributions in lost ocean basins

Abstract: Reconstructions of past seafloor age make it possible to quantify how plate tectonic forces, surface heat flow, ocean basin volume and global sea-level have varied through geological time. However, past ocean basins that have now been subducted cannot be uniquely reconstructed, and a significant challenge is how to explore a wide range of possible … Read more…

Kinematic and geodynamic evolution of the Isthmus of Panama region: Implications for Central American Seaway closure

Abstract: A major topic of debate in Earth and climate science surrounds the timing of closure of the Central American Seaway. While it is clear that the gateway was closed by ~2.8 Ma, recent studies based on geological and marine molecular evidence have suggested an earlier closing time of early to mid-Miocene. Here, we examine … Read more…

Sea level fluctuations driven by changes in global ocean basin volume following supercontinent break-up

Abstract: Long-term variations in eustatic sea level in an ice-free world, which existed through most of the Mesozoic and early Cenozoic eras, are partly driven by changes in the volume of ocean basins. Previous studies have determined ocean basin volume changes from plate tectonic reconstructions since the Mesozoic; however, these studies have not considered a … Read more…

A Quantitative Tomotectonic Plate Reconstruction of Western North America and the Eastern Pacific Basin

Abstract: Plate reconstructions since the breakup of Pangaea are mostly based on the preserved spreading history of ocean basins, within absolute reference frames that are constrained by a combination of age-progressive hotspot tracks and palaeomagnetic data. The evolution of destructive plate margins is difficult to constrain from surface observations as much of the evidence has … Read more…

Update to the Muller et al. (2019) plate reconstructions

The GPlates team has updated the relative and absolute plate motions in the Muller et al. (2019) reconstructions.  The details of the updates are summarised below. Version 2.0 of the model (including GPlates files, age-grids, global and regional animations, stretching factor grids, etc.) are available to download from this link. The Muller et al. (2019) … Read more…

Muller et al. (2019) deforming plate reconstructions and associated digital supplements (Tectonics)

A Global Plate Model Including Lithospheric Deformation Along Major Rifts and Orogens Since the Triassic R. Dietmar Müller, Sabin Zahirovic, Simon E. Williams, John Cannon, Maria Seton, Dan J. Bower, Michael G. Tetley, Christian Heine, Eline Le Breton, Shaofeng Liu, Samuel H. J. Russell, Ting Yang, Jonathon Leonard, and Michael Gurnis Journal: Tectonics (open access) … Read more…

Tectonic evolution and deep mantle structure of the eastern Tethys since the latest Jurassic

Sabin Zahirovic, Kara J. Matthews, Nicolas Flament, R. Dietmar Müller, Kevin C. Hill, Maria Seton, Michael Gurnis Earth-Science Reviews Citation: Zahirovic, S., Matthews, K.J., Flament, N., Müller, R.D., Hill, K.C., Seton, M. and Gurnis, M., 2016, Tectonic evolution and deep mantle structure of the eastern Tethys since the latest Jurassic, Earth Science Reviews, 162, 293-337. The … Read more…

Global plate boundary evolution and kinematics since the late Paleozoic

Matthews++_SummaryFigCitation

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.

This model is available with a default mantle reference frame, a hybrid reference frame using moving hotspots and a true polar wander corrected paleomagnetic reference frame (see paper for details) as well as with a paleomagnetic reference frame. For times before 83 Ma, the Pacific is shifted to maintain relative motions with the circum-Pangea continents – largely due to the fact that no paleomagnetic reference frames exist that extend to the birth age of the Pacific Plate. The paleomagnetic reference frame is based on data from Torsvik, T. H., Van der Voo, R., Preeden, U., Mac Niocaill, C., Steinberger, B., Doubrovine, P. V., van Hinsbergen, D. J., Domeier, M., Gaina, C., and Tohver, E., 2012, Phanerozoic polar wander, palaeogeography and dynamics: Earth-Science Reviews, v. 114, no. 3, p. 325-368, DOI: 10.1016/j.earscirev.2012.06.007.

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PALEOMAP PaleoAtlas for GPlates

PaleoAtlas_imageThe PALEOMAP PaleoAtlas for GPlates consists of 91 paleogeographic maps spanning the Phanerozoic and late Neoproterozoic. The PaleoAtlas can be directly loaded into GPlates as a Time Dependent Raster file. The paleogeographic maps in the PaleoAtlas illustrate the ancient configuration of the ocean basins and continents, as well as important topographic and bathymetric features such as mountains, lowlands, shallow sea, continental shelves, and deep oceans. This tutorial also describes how the maps in the PaleoAtlas were made, documents the sources of information used to make the paleogeographic maps, and provides instructions how to plot user-defined paleodata on the paleogeographic maps using the program PaleoDataPlotter. Read more…

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Ocean basin evolution and global-scale plate reorganization events since Pangea breakup

Seafloor ages from Müller et al.

Seafloor ages from Müller et al.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 global-scale plate reorganization events since Pangea breakup, Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Vol 44, 107-138. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-earth-060115-012211.

Abstract
We present a revised global plate motion model with continuously closing plate boundaries ranging from the Triassic at 230 Ma to the present day, assess differences between alternative absolute plate motion models, and review global tectonic events. Relatively high mean absolute plate motion rates around 9–10 cm yr-1 between 140 and 120 Ma may be related to transient plate motion accelerations driven by the successive emplacement of a sequence of large igneous provinces during that time. … Read more…

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The tectonic evolution of the Arctic since Pangea breakup: Integrating constraints from surface geology and geophysics with mantle structure

Shephard Arctic IconCitation
Shephard, G. E., Müller, R. D., & Seton, M. (2013). The tectonic evolution of the Arctic since Pangea breakup: Integrating constraints from surface geology and geophysics with mantle structure. Earth-Science Reviews, 124, 148-183. doi:10.1016/j.earscirev.2013.05.012

Summary
The tectonic evolution of the circum-Arctic, including the northern Pacific, Siberian and North American margins, since the Jurassic has been punctuated by the opening and closing of ocean basins, the accretion of autochthonous and allochthonous terranes and associated deformation. This complexity is expressed in the uncertainty of plate tectonic models of the region, with the time-dependent configurations and kinematic history remaining poorly understood. … Read more…

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Global continental and ocean basin reconstructions since 200 Ma

Plate reconstruction 200Ma-1Global plate motion models provide a spatial and temporal framework for geological data and have been effective tools for exploring processes occurring at the earth’s surface. However, published models either have insufficient temporal coverage or fail to treat tectonic plates in a self-consistent manner. They usually consider the motions of selected features attached to tectonic plates, such as continents, but generally do not explicitly account for the continuous evolution of plate boundaries through time. … Read more…

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Testing absolute plate reference frames and the implications for the generation of geodynamic mantle heterogeneity structure

Shephard 2012 agegrids vels 140-1Absolute reference frames are a means of describing the motion of plates on the surface of the Earth over time, relative to a fixed point or frame. Multiple models of absolute plate motion have been proposed for the Cretaceous-Tertiary period, however, estimating the robustness and limitations of each model remains a significant limitation for refining both regional and global models of plate motion as well as fully integrated and time dependent geodynamic models. Here, we use a novel approach to compare five models of absolute plate motion in terms of their consequences for forward modelled deep mantle structure since at least 140 Ma. … Read more…

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Computers and Geosciences – Plate Reconstructions with Continuously Closing Plates

Gurnis, M., Turner, M., Zahirovic, S., DiCaprio, L., Spasojevic, S., Müller, R. D., … & Bower, D. J. (2012). Plate tectonic reconstructions with continuously closing plates. Computers & Geosciences, 38(1), 35-42. doi:10.1016/j.cageo.2011.04.014. We present a new algorithm for modeling a self-consistent set of global plate polygons. Each plate polygon is composed of a finite list … Read more…