Integration of plate kinematic reconstructions in geodynamic models of mantle convection

Project Summary
Despite more than 30 years of plate tectonics research, we still do not know exactly what drives the plates or controls the time-dependence of mantle convection. Plate motions are linked to processes in the deeper Earth interior by complex, enigmatic cause-and-effect relationships. While mantle convection is generally accepted as the underlying cause of plate motions, the geometry of mantle flow and its relation to plate motions remains poorly understood. As plate tectonics is the Earth Science paradigm, breakthroughs in this field affect understanding of all branches of Earth Science including formation and distribution of natural resources, long-term climate change and natural hazards. History teaches us that new discoveries occur at the threshold of data resolution, when new data are collected, and at intersections between different yet complimentary disciplines. The intersection between geodynamic modelling and plate tectonics is one such intersection that shows enormous promise for resolving major outstanding problems in Earth Science. An integration of GPlates and EarthByte data with the LMU geodynamic modelling expertise, would allow major fundamental advances through the construction of a 4D Virtual Earth Model.

Funding Agency
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

Project Participants
Prof Dietmar Müller
Prof Hans-Peter Bunge
Dr Grace Shephard

Related Projects
Virtual Geological Observatory
Frontier Basin Exploration

Heine, C., Müller, R.D., DiCaprio, L. and Steinberger, B., Integrating deep Earth dynamics in paleogeographic reconstructions of Australia, Tectonophysics, 483, 135-150

Di Caprio, L., Müller, R.D., and Gurnis, M., A dynamic process for drowning carbonate reefs on the Northeastern Australian Margin, Geology, 38, 11-14, doi: 10.1130/G30217.1

Müller, R.D., Tectonics: Sinking Continents, Nature Geoscience, 3, 79-80.