Rift and plate boundary evolution across two super-continent cycles

Abstract The extent of continental rifts and subduction zones through deep geological time provides insights into the mechanisms behind supercontinent cycles and the long term evolution of the mantle. However, previous compilations have stopped short of mapping the locations of rifts and subduction zones continuously since the Neoproterozoic and within a self-consistent plate kinematic framework. … Read more…

Australian-Antarctic breakup and seafloor spreading: Balancing geological and geophysical constraints

Abstract  The motion of diverging tectonic plates is typically constrained by geophysical data from preserved ocean crust. However, constraining plate motions during continental rifting and the breakup process relies on balancing evidence from a diverse range of geological and geophysical observations, often subject to differing interpretations. Reconstructing the evolution of rifting and breakup between Australia and Antarctica epitomizes the challenges involved in … Read more…

Geodynamic reconstruction of an accreted Cretaceous back-arc basin in the Northern Andes

Abstract A complex history of subduction, back-arc basin formation, terrane accretion and transpressional shearing characterizes the evolution of the Caribbean and northern South American margin since Jurassic times. Quantitative plate tectonic reconstructions of the area do not include Jurassic-Cretaceous back-arc terranes of which there are both geological and geophysical observations. We developed a revised plate … Read more…

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…

EarthByte Honours and Masters Projects 2019

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EarthByte has now released a list of Honours/Masters projects to be offered in 2019. These projects are outlined below. Project Title Supervisor(s) How is landscape complexity driving biodiversity over geological time scales? Tristan Salles & Patrice Rey How well are tectonic and climatic signals preserved in the stratigraphic record? Tristan Salles & Claire Mallard Vertical motions … Read more…

Does the sea level or the sun drive volcanic seafloor topography?

Modelling shows what causes abyssal hills 2.5km below sea level Computer modelling shows climate- and sea-level cycles are not responsible for the ‘hills’ and ‘valleys’ at the bottom of the sea – a hypothesis that would have mapped a path to uncovering Earth’s climate history. Half a century after discovering how plate tectonics works, the … 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…

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…

Large igneous provinces contribute to ups and downs in atmospheric carbon dioxide

About 250 million years ago, a massive volcanic eruption flooded modern-day Siberia with lava, creating the Siberian Traps, giant plateaus made of multiple layers of lava. The eruption also released huge quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that rapidly altered the climate and triggered the Permian-Triassic mass extinction event that wiped out more than … Read more…

The influence of carbonate platform interactions with subduction zone volcanism on palaeo-atmospheric CO2 since the Devonian

Abstract: The CO2 liberated along subduction zones through intrusive/extrusive magmatic activity and the resulting active and diffuse outgassing influences global atmospheric CO2. However, when melts derived from subduction zones intersect buried carbonate platforms, decarbonation reactions may cause the contribution to atmospheric CO2 to be far greater than segments of the active margin that lacks buried carbon-rich rocks and … 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…

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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…

Workshop on “Bayeslands: Bayesian inference for Badlands”

Overview: In recent years, the Bayesian inference has become a popular methodology for the estimation and uncertainty quantification of parameters in geological and geophysical forward models via the posterior distribution. Badlands is a basin and landscape evolution model for simulating topography development at various space and time scales. This workshop will present  BayesLands which provides … Read more…

Controls on the global distribution of contourite drifts: Insights from an eddy-resolving ocean model

Abstract Contourite drifts are anomalously high sediment accumulations that form due to reworking by bottom currents. Due to the lack of a comprehensive contourite database, the link between vigorous bottom water activity and drift occurrence has yet to be demonstrated on a global scale. Using an eddy-resolving ocean model and a new georeferenced database of 267 contourites, we show that the … Read more…

Palaeolatitudinal distribution of lithologic indicators of climate in a palaeogeographic framework

Citation: Cao, W., Williams, S., Flament, N., Zahirovic, S., Scotese, C., and Müller, R. D., 2018. Paleolatitudinal distribution of lithologic indicators of climate in a paleogeographic framework. Geological Magazine, 1-24. Abstract: Whether the latitudinal distribution of climate-sensitive lithologies is stable through greenhouse and icehouse regimes remains unclear. Previous studies suggest that the palaeolatitudinal distribution of palaeoclimate … 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…

How seafloor weathering drives the slow carbon cycle

A previously unknown connection between geological atmospheric carbon dioxide cycles and the fluctuating capacity of the ocean crust to store carbon dioxide has been uncovered by two geoscientists from the University of Sydney. Prof Dietmar Müller and Dr Adriana Dutkiewicz from the Sydney Informatics Hub and the School of Geosciences report their discovery in the … 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…

Degassing from Continental Rifts Controls Earth’s Thermostat

As a greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has played a major role in regulating Earth’s climate throughout its history. There are vast stores of carbon in the subsurface, but the global carbon cycle controls how much of that carbon enters the atmosphere. As methods for monitoring and tracking the carbon dioxide that moves … Read more…

Continental breakup triggered massive CO2 emissions

Currently, human activity is the primary driver of elevating atmospheric CO2, but the Earth fluctuated from greenhouse to icehouse conditions and back long before humans existed. The question is:  what triggered these long-term climate cycles? Now research at the University of Sydney’s EarthByte Group, in collaboration with the German Research Centre for Geosciences, reveals how … Read more…

The Mapping Sciences Institute of Australia (NSW Division): Annual MSIA Seminar

The Mapping Sciences Institute of Australia (NSW Division) recently hosted its Annual MSIA Seminar at the Aspire Hotel in Ultimo, celebrating its 65th year promoting mapping. Prof. Dietmar Müller gave a presentation on “Using big data analytics to reveal what controls seabed geology”. World’s ocean basins contain a rich and nearly continuous record of environmental fluctuations … Read more…

University-wide code repository rolled out

Sydney Informatics Hub provides free repository service for code development and management. Sydney is the first university in Australia to offer staff and students access to GitHub Enterprise, a code development and management system that allows collaborators to work together to develop, test and distribute code. The platform is operated by Sydney Informatics Hub and is part of the … Read more…

EarthByte Honours and Masters Projects 2018

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EarthByte has now released a list of Honours/Masters projects to be offered in 2018. These projects are outlined below. Project Title Supervisor(s) Dynamic Earth models, landscape dynamics and basin evolution in Australasia Dietmar Müller, Sabin Zahirovic, Tristan Salles, Rohit Chandra, Sally Cripps (Centre for Translational Data Science) Incorporating modern plate tectonic reconstructions into box models of the deep-time deep-Earth … Read more…

A reconstruction of the Eurekan Orogeny incorporating deformation constraints

Author List:  Austin Gion, Simon Williams, Dietmar Müller Citation: Gion, A.M., Williams, S.E. and Müeller, R.D., 2017. A reconstruction of the Eurekan Orogeny incorporating deformation constraints. Tectonics, 36(2), pp.304-320. Abstract: The Eurekan Orogeny records Paleogene convergence between Greenland and the Canadian Arctic. The complexity of the region, well represented by the disputed magnitude of Cenozoic sinistral displacement of … Read more…

A global review and digital database of large-scale extinct spreading centers

Author List: Sarah MacLeod, Simon Williams, Kara Matthews, Dietmar Müller and Xiaodong Qin Citation: MacLeod, S.J., Williams, S.E., Matthews, K.J., Müller, R.D. and Qin, X., 2017. A global review and digital database of large-scale extinct spreading centers. Geosphere, pp.GES01379-1. Abstract: Extinct mid-ocean ridges record past plate boundary reorganizations, and identifying their locations is crucial to developing a better understanding of the … 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…