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…

Dietmar Muller gives public Accelerated Computing for Innovation talk on “Understanding Earth System Evolution – connecting Deep to Surface Processes”

The Earth’s composition and location relative to the sun has resulted in a thermal, structural and geochemical evolution that is unique in the solar system, forming a resource-rich, oxygenated habitable planet. Human civilization is built on the premise of relatively stable climate and coastlines Yet the geological record reveals numerous episodes of enormous change, innovation, … Read more…

GPlates short course at EGU 2018

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On 12 April, EarthByte members delivered a GPlates short course as part of the European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna, Austria. The workshop was organised and delivered by Dr Sabin Zahirovic, Prof Dietmar Muller, and Dr Martina Ulvrova (ETH, Zurich), but also involved talented EarthByte students Amanda Thran and Wenchao Cao who helped users throughout … Read more…

PaleoDEM Resource – Scotese and Wright (2018)

A paleo-digital elevation model (paleoDEM) is a digital representation of paleotopography and paleobathymetry that has been “reconstructed” back in time. This report describes how the 117 PALEOMAP paleoDEMS (see Supplementary Materials) were made and how they can be used to produce detailed paleogeographic maps. The paleoDEMS describe the changing distribution of deep oceans, shallow seas, … Read more…

GPlates 2.1 released (and pyGPlates revision 18)

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GPlates 2.1 was released today! Many bugs have been fixed, including the computation of crustal thinning factors. NetCDF-4 is now supported for raster import/export, i.e. GPlates 2.1 can now read and write GMT-5 grids. Many thanks to the GPlates development team and especially to Sabin Zahirovic without whose tireless efforts GPlates 2.1 would not have … 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…

GPlates: Building a Virtual Earth Through Deep Time

A paper about the GPlates software has been published in G-cubed. The GPlates virtual globe software provides the capability to reconstruct geodata attached to tectonic plates to develop and modify models that describe how the plates and their boundaries have evolved through time. It allows users to deform plates and to visualize surface tectonics in … 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…


The Interplay Between the Eruption and Weathering of Large Igneous Provinces and the Deep-Time Carbon Cycle

Abstract: Although many sources of atmospheric CO2 have been estimated, the major sinks are poorly understood in a deep-time context. Here we combine plate reconstructions, the eruption ages and outlines of Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs), and the atmospheric CO2 proxy record to investigate how their eruptions and weathering within the equatorial humid zone impacted global … Read more…

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…

Oceanic crustal carbon cycle drives 26 million-year atmospheric carbon dioxide periodicities

Citation: Müller, R.D. and Dutkiewicz, A., 2018, Oceanic crustal carbon cycle drives 26 million-year atmospheric carbon dioxide periodicities, Science Advances, 4:eaaq0500, 1-7. Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) data for the last 420 million years (My) show long-term fluctuations related to supercontinent cycles as well as shorter cycles at 26–32 My whose origin is unknown. Periodicities of 26–30 … Read more…

Predicting Sediment Thickness on Vanished Ocean Crust Since 200 Ma

Citation: Dutkiewicz, A., Müller, R.D., Wang, X., O’Callaghan, S., Cannon, J., Wright, N.M., 2017. Predicting sediment thickness on vanished ocean crust since 200 Ma. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 18, 4586–4603. Tracing sedimentation through time on existing and vanished seafloor is imperative for constraining long-term eustasy and for calculating volumes of subducted deep-sea sediments that contribute to global … 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…

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…

Global Dynamic Topography Models

Cao et al., 2018

Cao, X., Flament, N, Müller, R.D. and Li, S. (in revision) The dynamic topography of eastern China since the latest Jurassic Period , Tectonics.

Müller et al., 2017

Müller R.D., Hassan, R., Gurnis, M., Flament, N., and Williams, S.E., 2017, Dynamic topography of passive continental margins and their hinterlands since the Cretaceous, Gondwana Research, in press, accepted 21 March 2017.

Barnett-Moore et al., 2017

Barnett-Moore, N., R. Hassan, R. D. Müller, S. E. Williams, and N. Flament (2017), Dynamic topography and eustasy controlled the paleogeographic evolution of northern Africa since the mid-Cretaceous , Tectonics, 36, 929–944, doi:10.1002/2016TC004280.

 Rubey et al., 2017

Rubey, M., Brune, S., Heine, C., Davies, D. R., Williams, S. E., and Müller R. D.: Global patterns of Earth’s dynamic topography since the Jurassic, Solid Earth Discuss., doi:10.5194/se-2017-26, in press, 2017.

Müller et al., 2016

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. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2016.02.025

Zahirovic et al., 2016a

Zahirovic, S., Matthews, K. J., Flament, N., Müller, R. D., Hill, K. C., Seton, M., & Gurnis, M. (2016a). Tectonic evolution and deep mantle structure of the eastern Tethys since the latest Jurassic. Earth-Science Reviews, 162, 293-337.

Zahirovic et al.,2016b

Zahirovic, S., Flament, N., Müller, R. D, Seton, M., & Gurnis, M. (2016b). Large fluctuations of shallow seas in low-lying Southeast Asia driven by mantle flow. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 17(9), 3589-3607.

Flament et al., 2015

Flament, N., Gurnis, M., Müller R. D., Bower, D. J., & Husson, L. (2015). Influence of subduction history on South American topography. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 430, 9-18, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2015.08.006.

Seton et al., 2015

Seton, M., Flament, N., Whittaker, J., Müller, R. D., Gurnis, M., & Bower, D. J. (2015). Ridge subduction sparked reorganization of the Pacific plate-mantle system 60.50 million years ago. Geophysical Research Letters, 42(6), 1732-1740.

Bower et al., 2015

Bower, D. J., Gurnis, M., & Flament, N. (2015). Assimilating lithosphere and slab history in 4-D Earth models. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, 238, 8-22.

Flament et al., 2014

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The deep Earth origin of the Iceland plume and its effects on regional surface uplift and subsidence

Abstract The present-day seismic structure of the mantle under the North Atlantic Ocean indicates that the Iceland hotspot represents the surface expression of a deep mantle plume, which is thought to have erupted in the North Atlantic domain during the Palaeocene. The spatial and temporal evolution of the plume since its eruption is still highly … 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…

A Paleomagnetic Database for GPlates: PaleoPoles, Declination Arrows, and PaleoLatitudes

A PaleomagneticPmag Tutorial Image Database that has been assembled for use with the program, GPlates.  The paleomagnetic database presented here is made up of 1638 paleopoles compiled by Rob Van der Voo for his book, Paleomagnetism of the Atlantic, Tethys, and Iapetus Oceans.  In addition to the spreadsheet of paleopoles, we have constructed five feature collections that can be used to visualize the paleomagnetic data using GPlates:  1) site localities, 2) paleopoles, 3) declination arrows, 4) paleolatitude labels, and a set of time-dependent rasters which plot the site locations, paleopoles, declination arrows, and paleolatitude labels on a set of plate tectonic reconstructions ( 0 – 540 Ma).  The last section of this report is a detailed discussion of the paleomagnetic data for three-time intervals (40Ma, 285Ma, and 450Ma).  The Supplementary Materials includes a program, “PaleoPolePlotter”, which GPlates users can use to build paleopoles, declination arrows, and paleolatitude labels from user-defined data sets
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Badlands v2.0 is released

Today version 2.0 of Badlands has been released This release add new capabilities to the code: simulates river entering in the simulation area output of Chi parameter in Hdf5 flow network multi-erodibility layers creation 3D stratigraphic layer displacements This release is compatible with version 1.0.0 and will work with similar XML input files. Download Badlands (source … Read more…

Origin and evolution of the deep thermochemical structure beneath Eurasia


Flament, N. et al. Origin and evolution of the deep thermochemical structure beneath Eurasia. Nat. Commun. 7, 14164 doi: 10.1038/ncomms14164 (2016).


A unique structure in the Earth’s lowermost mantle, the Perm Anomaly, was recently identified beneath Eurasia. It seismologically resembles the large low-shear velocity provinces (LLSVPs) under Africa and the Pacific, but is much smaller. This challenges the current understanding of the evolution of the plate–mantle system in which plumes rise from the edges of the two LLSVPs, spatially fixed in time. New models of mantle flow over the last 230 million years reproduce the present-day structure of the lower mantle, and show a Perm-like anomaly. The anomaly formed in isolation within a closed subduction network ~22,000 km in circumference before 150 million years ago before migrating ~1,500 km westward at an average rate of 1 cm per year, indicating a greater mobility of deep mantle structures than previously recognized. We hypothesize that the mobile Perm Anomaly could be linked to the Emeishan volcanics, in contrast to the previously proposed Siberian Traps. 

This article is freely accessible using the following link http://rdcu.be/oDqg Read more…


Global plate boundary evolution and kinematics since the late Paleozoic


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


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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Setting up environment for DCO Demo Analysis

Mac Environment 1.1) Install Anaconda Navigate to the continuum website and download the python 2.7 Mac version of Anaconda, if not already installed. In terminal, where the downloaded anaconda source code is stored, type: bash Anaconda2-4.1.1-MacOSX-x86_64.sh Select yes to all of the prompts. Edit your .bash_profile to include the anaconda bin path in the PATH … Read more…

Workflow explained: The interaction of subduction zone volcanism with carbonate platforms and continents

Objectives Our two objectives of analysis were to (a) quantify the km-long length areas of interaction of subduction zone volcanism with carbonate platforms and (b) characterise the subduction volcanism as either continental or intra-oceanic depending on the proximity of the subduction zones to continent-ocean boundaries. In regards to the first objective, we are interested in cases where subduction-related … Read more…

Workflow explained: Measuring global subduction zone lengths with pyGPlates

For our first analysis, we developed a simple work flow to quantify subduction zone lengths from 0 to 400 Ma, using the Matthews et al. (2016) plate kinematic model. The bash workflow consists of python scripts, GMT tools and AWK scripts organised into bash sub-routine functions. The most integral parts of the workflow are the python scripts … Read more…

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…


pygplates beta revision 12 released

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GPlates Vector LogoThe first beta release of pygplates (the GPlates Python library) is now available for download.

pygplates enables access to GPlates functionality via the Python programming language. This may be of particular use to researchers requiring more flexibility than is provided by the GPlates user interface.

The following pygplates functionality is available:-

  • Load and save feature data (GPML, Shapefile, etc)
  • Create/modify/query feature data
  • Traverse/modify/query plate rotation hierarchy
  • Partition into plates and assign plate properties
  • Reconstruct geometries, flowlines, motion paths
  • Resolve topological plates and query their boundary sections (ridges/subductions)
  • Calculate velocities
  • Distance between geometries (region-of-interest queries)
  • Geometry queries (length, point-in-polygon, area, centroid, tessellate, interpolate, join, partition)

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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.

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…